Shadley van Schalkwyk took five wickets for the Knights against the Cobras on Tuesday. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

BLOEMFONTEIN – The Knights made a strong start to their Sunfoil Series title defence after five wickets from Shadley van Schalkwyk put them on top against the Cape Cobras at the Mangaung Oval in Bloemfontein on Tuesday.

The medium-pacer claimed a tidy 5/30 in 15 overs, which included the wickets of Proteas stars Hashim Amla and Temba Bavuma, to send the visitors packing for 159, before the hosts replied with 180/1 by stumps, a lead of 21.

The response was led by an unbroken 150-run stand between another Test player and Knights captain Theunis de Bruyn (81 off 106 balls, 12x4) and Keegan Petersen (70 off 143 balls, 8x4).

It was a commanding opening day of the 2017/18 campaign by the home side, who had lost the toss at the start and were asked to field first.

But that did not hamper them as last season’s top wicket-taker, Duanne Olivier, provided fine support for Van Schalkwyk with 3/58 – the pair ensuring the Cape visitors were dismantled in 41 overs.

Amla was the only batsman to make his mark with a fluent 56 (70 balls, 6x4, 2x6), with Bavuma getting 25.

Knights debutant Eddie Leie picked up 1/3 in his solitary over.

Grant Mokoena (16) fell early in the reply, but that was as good as it got for the Cobras, with De Bruyn and Petersen punishing them with a stand that left the hosts in a powerful position.

Cricket South Africa