Knights storm to record win; first loss for Cobras
Cape Cobras succumbed to their first defeat of the season at Boland Park in Paarl, losing to Lions by 186 runs. Cobras captain Dane Piedt opted to field, but Wihahn Lubbe's second successive century in the competition, and fifties from Temba Bavuma and Rassie van der Dussen underpinned a strong first innings for Lions, who reached 337 despite Dane Paterson's 5 for 86. Lions were missing Beuran Hendricks, who is on a one-match suspension after throwing the ball at an opposing batsman during Lions' last game against Titans, but put in an excellent all-round display with the ball in his absence to bowl Cobras out for just 138. Nicky van den Burgh's second-innings 83 left Cobras with a target of 433, and though they briefly rallied through a 122-run stand between Pieter Malan and Jason Smith, Lions wrapped up a big win on the final day. Cobras hold onto their position at the top of the points table despite the defeat, but Lions have solidified their second-place position and could catch up in the next round.
In Kimberley, a fourth-day collapse by Warriors handed Knights a 284-run win - their largest-ever victory in franchise cricket. While Knights' batsmen made the most of the conditions, with Grant Mokoena narrowly missing out on a ton in the first innings, and wicketkeeper Keegan Petersen making scores of 82 and 103 not out before a second innings declaration, Warriors struggled with the bat throughout the match. They were bowled out for just 134 in their first innings, offspinner Tshepo Ntuli doing most of the damage with 4 for 58, and in their second, collapsed from 145 for 1 to 205 all out. Warriors might have had hopes of saving the game when openers Edward Moore and Gihahn Cloete negotiated the first 20 overs, but Ryan McLaren and Duanne Olivier ripped through the rest of the order after both men fell, sharing seven wickets to secure Knights' second win of the competition.
Vaughn van Jaarsveld's second hundred of the season helped Dolphins secure a draw against Titans at Kingsmead. Dolphins had begun their second innings having to overturn a 195-run deficit to make Titans bat again, after they had crashed to 186 all out in their first innings and then been at the receiving end of a committed batting display from Titans' lower middle order. Eldred Hawken made a career-best 84 not out from No. 9, while there were also fifties for Jonathan Vandiar and captain Shaun von Berg as Titans reached 381. Van Jaarsveld's century allowed Dolphins to erase their deficit, and after he fell for 133, Dolphins' tail showed some mettle to push their lead to 107 before the captains agreed on a draw with a possible 10 overs remaining.
The next round of the 4-Day Franchise Series will take place at the end of December as there is a break in the domestic franchise season for the Mzansi Super League, which starts on November 16 and runs for a month.
On the national radar
While van Jaarsveld's hundred formed the backbone of Dolphins' rearguard, they also had Keshav Maharaj to thank for their draw against Titans. Maharaj top-scored in their first innings with 76, and added a crucial 23 in the second to shelve any thoughts of a late push by Titans. In between, he also did the bulk of the bowling for his team, sending down 43 out of the 104 overs in Titans' only innings, and taking three wickets. Dean Elgar made a five-ball duck in the same game, and apart from his century in the last match, he has yet to make an impact with the bat for his franchise this season, with a string of preceding single-figure scores.
Temba Bavuma and Rassie van der Dussen have been enjoying rather more success with the bat. Both men made fifties in Lions' first innings against Cape Cobras, while van der Dussen also made 41 in the second and now has 381 first-class runs at 63.50 this season.
Vernon Philander was not named in Cape Cobras' XI for this round of the 4-Day Franchise series, but his absence is not injury-related. He and his wife Mandy are expecting their first child to be born this week.
While both of their teams ended up on the losing side, this was a good week for fast bowlers Dane Paterson and Anrich Nortje. Both men picked up six-fors in the previous round, and both followed that up with five-wicket hauls this week, Paterson taking 5 for 81 for Cobras and Nortje picking up 5 for 51 for Warriors. Paterson's returns helped him keep his place at the top of the competition's wicket tables, with 26 scalps at 18.26, while Nortje is not far behind him, with 24 wickets at 21.04.
Liam Brickhill is a freelance journalist based in Cape Town