Duminy double-ton takes Cobras second
Rain didn't only have a say in the Test match between South Africa and India at SuperSport Park in Centurion, but in the SuperSport series too. The first day of the matches between the Knights and the Warriors in East London, and the Cobras and the Dolphins in Paarl were washed out. The Lions and the Titans were the only teams that played on all four days. All three fixtures saw players on the fringes of the South Africa side record good performances.
The Cobras slotted into second place with an innings-and-166-run victory over the Dolphins in Paarl. Play got underway on day two after a wet first day and the Dolphins chose to field, hoping to get some assistance from the overcast conditions. The going was tough for the Cobras openers. Alistair Gray took 199 balls to make his 57 runs but he and Andrew Puttick laid a solid platform for the middle order to launch from.
Owais Shah made just 20 but Justin Ontong and JP Duminy cashed in. Ontong has been having a quietly successful season and scored 127. Duminy made his claim for national selection as loudly as he could. He became the second batsman to score an unbeaten double-century this weekend (Jacques Kallis being the other) in the country. Duminy's 200 not out came off just 201 balls as the Cobras declared on 515 for 5. None of the Dolphins bowlers stood out. Imran Tahir, the highest wicket-taker this season, missed the match because of a back injury. Fellow legspinner Keshav Maharaj was the most successful bowler with 4 for 214.
The Dolphins had a shocker in reply and were bowled out for 99. Vaughn van Jaarsveld was their highest scoring batsman and scored just 23. Cobras seamer Vernon Philander finished with figures of 4 for 33. With a 416-run deficit, the Dolphins were made to follow on and fared only a little better in their second outing. Van Jaarsveld scored 57 and Ravi Bopara made 74, but the Dolphins line-up left a lot to be desired. Philander's three second-innings wickets left him with seven for the match.
The Titans stamped their authority on the top of the table with a four-wicket win over the Lions in Potchefstroom. The Titans batted first and found themselves in trouble early on, at 57 for 3, but were rescued in magnificent fashion. Titans wicketkeeper Heino Kuhn scored 92 and Albie Morkel made an impressive return to form with 182 runs. Opener Pieter Malan, legspinner Shaun von Berg and seamer Gerhardus Viljoen also made half centuries and the Titans were bowled out for 513. The Lions spinners were the only ones who enjoyed success with Werner Coetsee and Dale Deeb sharing six wickets between them.
Coetsee also starred with the bat in the Lions first innings. He put on 166 runs for the fifth wicket with Zander de Bruyn, who scored 109. The Lions were bowled out for 352, giving the Titans a 161-run lead, which allowed them to enforce the follow-on. The Lions were bowled out in their second innings for two more runs than they were in the first. Neil McKenzie's 130 was the only century of their second innings with Jean Symes' 43 the next highest score. Von Berg's 4 for 130 and Viljoen's 3 for 50 were the best figures for the Titans as they were set a target of 194 to win.
Fast bowler Friedel de Wet was the biggest threat to the Titans getting there. He took the first three Titans wickets to reduce them to 72 for 3. Jacques Rudolph's 60 had a calming effect on a line-up that was losing wickets quickly. Coetsee, Deeb and seamer Craig Alexander took a wicket apiece and even though the Titans were being pegged back, Morkel and von Berg took them to victory. The Lions have dropped from second to third in the table after the result.
In East London, the Knights and the Warriors drew after two high-scoring first innings. Warriors fast bowler Wayne Parnell ripped through the Knights top three and reduced them to 65 for 3 in the ninth over. Centuries from Ryan Bailey and Morne van Wyk, who shared a 236-run fifth wicket partnership, took the Knights to a respectable 430 for 8 declared. van Wyk carried over his superb form from the MTN40 tournament and ended on 150 not out.
The Warriors had few problems in their innings, with the top five all making healthy contributions. Wicketkeeper Arno Jacobs was one of two centurions after scoring 110. Kelly Smuts was unbeaten on 100 at the end of the match. The captains shook hands on a draw after he reached his century. The Warriors were on 499 for 5 and were ahead by 69 runs.
Batsman of the week: For making the national selectors sit up and take notice of his desire to get back into the Test arena, JP Duminy's 200 not out earns him the award.
Bowler of the week: Vernon Philander's match-haul of 7 for 73 against the Dolphins lifts him to third in the bowling charts with 23 wickets. He has the best average out of the top ten bowlers.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent