Bloemfontein’s Mangaung Oval is proving to be a graveyard for the bowlers in the opening Sunfoil Series clash between the Knights and the Cape Cobras, with only six wickets falling over the last two days for the addition of 747 runs.
After resuming on 551/4 on Thursday, the Knights moved to 623 without any further loss, with both Rudi Second (101 not out, 176 balls, 11x4) and Werner Coetzee (105 not out, 135 balls, 10x4, 2x6) moving on to three-figure scores on the third morning.
Once the pair reached their respective milestones, Knights captain Theunis de Bruyn immediately rang the declaration bell, with the home side 464 runs ahead on the first innings.
After only mustering 159 in their first innings, it was a matter of pure survival for the Cobras, and the visitors were staring down the barrel at 58/3 in their second innings.
Openers Andrew Puttick (8) and Pieter Malan (35), along with Temba Bavuma – who could only muster a first-ball duck – were the batsmen back in the changeroom.
It was therefore left to the Cobras’ most senior batsmen, Hashim Amla and Justin Ontong, to at least try and restore some pride for the beleaguered visitors.
The pair began the resuscitation job with caution before finding their rhythm later on. By the time stumps were drawn on day three, both had moved to their respective centuries, with Amla on 121 not out and Ontong undefeated on 124.
The duo have already added 246 runs for the fourth wicket – the third partnership of the match in excess of 200 runs.
The Cobras are by no means out of the woods yet though, with the visitors still trailing by 160 runs and only seven wickets remaining heading into the final day.
They have, however, managed to keep the Knights in the field for longer than the 41 overs their first innings lasted, and will hope that Amla and Ontong can at least take their partnership into the second session if they are to rescue a contest they were firmly behind in from almost the first ball.
Brief Scores: Day 3
Cape Cobras 1st innings 159 – Hashim Amla 56; Shadley van Schalkwyk 5/30
Knights 1st innings 623/4 – Theunis de Bruyn 195, Keegan Petersen 141, Rudi Second 101 not out, Werner Coetzee 105 not out
Cape Cobras 2nd innings 303/2 – Hashim Amla 121 not out, Justin Ontong 124 not out; Eddie Leie 2/75
Knights lead by 160 runs