JOHANNESBURG – The Titans launched a magnificent fightback Tuesday thanks to a fine and as yet unbeaten 127 from Theunis de Bruyn.
That innings, and a partnership of 230 for the fourth wicket with Jonathan Vandiar, who made 98, ensured the Titans will start day three on Wednesday with a lead of 86.
The Cape Cobras remains very much the favourites to win, but the Titans will hope that with De Bruyn still at the crease, accompanied by the veteran Henry Davids and Rivaldo Moonsamy and Shaun von Berg still to bat, that they can set the visitors a tricky target in the fourth innings.
The Cobras had pushed their lead beyond the 200 mark in the morning thanks to Jason Smith’s 92. In the context of the match his partnership of 79 for the ninth wicket with Tladi Bokako (34) was invaluable. It provided a significant advantage for the Cobras, one upon which they quickly built as they picked up three Titans second innings wickets before the 20th over.
Included among those was Dean Elgar, usually a resolute sought in these types of situations, but who is in a bit of a slump of late. Since scoring 110 for Surrey last month, in his last match for the English County champions, Elgar has registered scores of 2,4,1,1 and 6 on home soil, two of those innings being for the Proteas in the One-Day series against Zimbabwe.
That output stands in stark contrast to the efforts of De Bruyn, who is arguably the form batsman in the country at the start of the season, having gone passed 50 in four of his five innings in the Four-Day Series, with Tuesday’s effort his second century of the competition.
With his last Test performance being a second innings hundred against Sri Lanka in Colombo in July, he is certainly ensuring he’ll be back in the starting line-up for the Proteas in the opening Test of the summer which will be held here on Boxing Day against Pakistan.
De Bruyn was superb here Tuesday taking advantage of a pitch which really flattened out after the fireworks it produced on the first day when 18 wickets fell. Truth be told the Cobras, as committed as they were, probably didn’t bowl with the same level of discipline they produced in the Titans’ first innings.
A couple of deliveries still misbehaved, but not nearly as many as on day one while the Cobras also offered up many more ‘freebies’ than they did on Monday. De Bruyn has hit 22 fours in his innings which has come of just 161 balls, a sign of his aggression, but also some loose bowling from the visitors.
That fourth wicket partnership with Vandiar came at a run rate comfortably above four runs an over and that was with Vandiar practicing more caution than what he is known for. He batted for over three and a half hours for his 98 which came off 158 balls and included 11 fours and five sixes.
A couple of late wickets, including that of Vandiar lifted the Cobras’ spirits, and though it was a difficult afternoon for them, they still hold most of the aces ahead of Wednesday’s play.
Result: Day 2 of 4
Multiply Titans 122 and 301/5
WSB Cape Cobras 337