Lions spinner Bjorn Fortuin produced a career-best return of 7/70 in 30.3 overs against the Knights. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

A maiden franchise century by Kagiso Rapulana played a key role as the Highveld Lions clawed their way back on the second day of their 4-Day Domestic Series encounter against the Knights in Bloemfontein on Tuesday.

There was also an outstanding career-best return from Bjorn Fortuin, whose 7/70 in 30.3 overs helped bowl out the hosts for 357.

Right-hander Rapulana then hit an unbeaten 114 (144 balls, 13x4) to help the visitors reach stumps on 279/5 – a deficit of 78.

It was a good fight-back from the title-chasing Lions after they had slumped to 185/5, and they will certainly be pleased with the grit shown by their star batsman. 

The earlier work was done by Fortuin as he completed his third career five-for.

The Knights resumed day two on 312/6, and superb bowling by the spinner Fortuin ensured that just 45 runs were produced by the final four wickets.

After Nandré Burger (1/75) nipped out Andries Gous for 45, Fortuin claimed the last three wickets to send the hosts packing in 113.3 overs.

Stephen Cook (49) and Dominic Hendricks (18) put on 54 for the first wicket to give their side a solid grounding, before three quick wickets left them on 82/3.

A 95-run stand between Rapulana and Temba Bavuma (30) helped get the Lions back on the road, before Patrick Kruger (2/37) threatened to derail the Johannesburg-based side.

But Rapulana’s attacking third career century – a best in four-day cricket, surpassing the 75 he made against the Multiply Titans last weekend – was the big difference.

He added an unbroken 94 with Wiaan Mulder (41 not out) for the sixth wicket, a partnership that kept their side well in the game at the Mangaung Oval.

Cricket South Africa