Duanne Olivier was virtually unplayable in taking 4/23 for the Knights against the Titans on Wednesday. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Half-centuries by Proteas trio Faf du Plessis, Heinrich Klaasen and Farhaan Behardien helped the Titans end the opening day of their 4-Day Domestic Series encounter against the Knights with honours even in Bloemfontein on Wednesday.

The visitors batted first and were bowled out for 303, before the hosts, who had won the toss and bowled first, replied with 45/0 by stumps – trailing by 258 at the Mangaung Oval.

National captain Du Plessis top-scored with 84 (125 balls, 12x4), with Titans skipper Klaasen striking 63 (111 balls, 9x4).

Behardien, meanwhile, made 53 from 76 balls (6x4, 1x6) as the Centurion-based side went in search of their first win.

The pick of the bowlers was another Protea, the virtually unplayable Duanne Olivier, after he collected a supreme 4/23 in 16 miserly overs.

His first wicket was that of Aiden Markram, who continued his worrying form by making only 17.

Ryan McLaren (1/56) removed Jonathan Vandiar (8), while Dean Elgar managed 37 before he also fell to Olivier.

It left the Titans on 102/3 at that stage, before their three half-centurions rebuilt the innings by taking them to 258/4 and 299/5 at one stage.

But Behardien fell to Shadley van Schalkwyk (3/72) with the final delivery before the new ball became available, and the same bowler then ran through the tail as the home side ended strongly.

Grant Mokoena (15) and Keegan Petersen (30) then scored at a run-rate of more than six to give the Knights a strong start in their reply in the seven overs they faced before stumps.

Cricket South Africa