Kagiso Rapulana continued his rich run of form with a day three century that helped put the Highveld Lions in charge in their must-win final-round 4-Day Domestic Series encounter against the Warriors in Potchefstroom on Wednesday.
The right-hander was unbeaten on 114 (166 balls, 10x4) at the close – his second successive century and fourth overall – with the hosts ending proceedings on 292/9 at Senwes Park.
That gave them a lead of 329, and they will need to attack the visitors from the outset to try and get the win they desperately need, that might bring with it the title.
After the bonus-point scenario was settled earlier on day three with the log-leading Cape Cobras ahead on the table, it means that the Lions have to win and hope the side they are chasing either draws or lose their match against the Dolphins in Pietermaritzburg.
The Johannesburg-based side did their best to press for victory on another thrilling day of first-class cricket in the North West.
They began the day in the field and looking for four wickets of the Warriors, who managed to move from their overnight 314/6 to 403 all out.
That was thanks to a maiden franchise half-century from Thomas Kaber – the all-rounder finishing with a top-score of 85 (163 balls, 10x4, 1x6).
There was also 66 (145 balls, 10x4) from Sisanda Magala, while debutant Delano Potgieter (4/81) and Malusi Siboto (4/91) ended with four wickets apiece.
The Lions made a solid start to their reply thanks to Stephen Cook (28) and Dominic Hendricks (30), but three quick wickets for another debutant, Sithembile Langa, saw them slip to 80/3.
Temba Bavuma’s quick-fire 48 off 46 balls then got the hosts moving as he shared in an 81-run stand with Rapulana, who later found more support from Potgieter (28) to ensure there was a strong finish to the day.
Langa was the pick of the bowlers thanks to his career-best 5/61.
STUMPS: Kagiso Rapulana's 114* helped the #LionsCharge to a lead of 329 with a wicket remaining and has kept our #4DaySeries title chances alive heading into the last day of play on Thursday.— Lions Cricket (@LionsCricketSA) January 30, 2019
The score is 292/9* at stumps on day 3.#LIOvWAR #JoinTheCharge pic.twitter.com/hsFzsDft6M
Cricket South Africa