Harris show puts Titans on top
The Titans moved to top spot with a a 139-run win over the Eagles in Benoni, in the only outright win of the fourth week of the SuperSport Series. There were three centurions in the match, but in the end the brilliance of Paul Harris on the fourth day proved decisive. He picked up 7 for 94 during the Eagles' chase to follow up his five wickets in the first innings. Pierre Joubert, the Titans captain, didn't get the start he wanted after electing to bat. They were in trouble at 149 for 5 but were bailed out by Farhaan Behardien and Joubert's 143-run sixth-wicket stand. Behardien brought up his maiden first-class century on the second day and went on to 150 before the Titans declared at 423.
The Eagles needed a maiden centurion of their own to rescue them after they slumped to 140 for 6. Rilee Rossouw made 106 but, with little support from the lower order, they finished 169 runs behind. Aggressive batting from the openers, Blake Snijman (52) and Heino Kuhn (43), along with a 59-ball 49 from Martin van Jaarsveld, helped Titans reach 214. The chase of 383 was made harder as the Titans' spinners were in top form. Dean Elgar made a defiant 155 but, with only one other batsman going past 15, the Eagles slumped to defeat. Harris took seven of the first eight wickets to bag his first ten-wicket match haul.
Bottom-placed Cape Cobras were still searching for their first win after drawing with the Lions in Paarl. Alistair Gray's 256-ball 71 typified the Cobras' approach on the first day after they chose to bat as they laboured to 233 for 3 on a good batting pitch. The Lions were in no hurry themselves after bowling the Cobras out for 348 on the second day. Stephen Cook took nearly eight hours for his 132 though Vaughn van Jaarsveld was a bit more adventurous, hitting two sixes in his 98. The Lions were poised for a big lead but a hat-trick by legspinner Alistair Gray limited the advantage to 47 runs. Andrew Puttick's 74 was the highlight of the Cobra's second innings as they sportingly declared 188 ahead, leaving the Lions with 40 overs for a win. Van Jaarsveld's 42-ball 38 wasn't quite enough and the captains called off the match six overs early after a stalemate was guaranteed with the score on 107 for 4.
Bad light affected the Warriors' chances of a win over the Dolphins in Kingsmead, with play stopped early on all four days. Put in to bat, the Warriors were in a spot of bother at 48 for 3 but useful contributions from opener JJ Smuts (50) and the middle and lower orders pushed them to a formidable 375. Wicketkeeper Davey Jacobs and Justin Kreusch fell in the 70s, before a 87-run ninth-wicket stand between Juan Theron (58) and Makhaya Ntini (31). The Dolphins were reduced to 22 for 3 before captain Ahmed Amla (97) and Dave Miller (70) did the rescue act. Ntini's 6 for 85 ensured the Warriors gained a 98-run lead, who then declared on 175 on the fourth day, leaving the Dolphins with an improbable target of 274. Ntini and Tsotsobe's initial burst had the hosts reeling at 35 for 5 at lunch, but a 102-run stand partnership between Imraan Khan and Daryn Smit kept the Dolphins afloat. Imraan was dismissed was 66 but No. 9 Quinton Friend played out 48 deliveries until play was called off early.
Player of the weekPaul Harris was largely responsible for taking the Titans to the No. 1 spot in the table with his 12-wicket haul against the Eagles. So dominant was spin on the fourth day that it wasn't until the 81st over that the Titans made use of a fast bowler. He looks all set to repeat his haul of 49 wickets in the 2005-06 SuperSport Series. And turning out for the Dolphins will keep him primed for the busy international schedule ahead.