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January 16, 2010
The only result of the weekend came from the contest involving the fifth and last places teams in the SuperSport Series, with the other two fixtures ending in draws. The bottom of the table clash between the Knights and the Warriors finished in three days in Kimberley. The Warriors earned their first win of the competition, but they remain rooted to the bottom of the table.
It was uncharacteristically low-scoring match on the usually flat De Beers Diamond Oval. The Knights put up a respectable 301 in their first innings. Rilee Rossouw and Dean Elgar were the rocks on which that total was built. Rossouw scored 122 and Elgar an unbeaten 70, the pair sharing a second-wicket partnership of 157. The rest of the scorecard was the property of Andrew Birch and South Africa seamer Rusty Theron. They took 4 for 68 and 4 for 55 respectively.
The Warriors, who have looked inept with the bat all season, continued in that fashion, and were bowled out for 210. Johan van der Wath sliced his way through them with 6 for 66, claiming wickets all through the order. Bevan Bennett was the only batsman to show any fight, top scoring with 41.
Birch and Theron were not finished and shared eight wickets between them again in the Knights second innings. Birch claiming a five-for and Theron three for 42 as the Knights were bundle out for 120, setting the Warriors a target of 212 to win. It was an exciting chase, which started with van der Wath capturing Michael Price's wicket with the score on 11. Jon-Jon Smuts 86 held the innings together, while van der Wath's 3 for 42 and Victor Mpitsang's 3 for 38 almost gave the Knights victory. Birch was there at the end with Basheer Walters and the Warriors won by two wickets.
Rain had a major say in the Titans clash with the Dolphins in Benoni. The Dolphins opted to bat first in bowler friendly conditions and found themselves in big trouble at 95 for six. Albie Morkel, who ended with five for 73, did the bulk of the early damage. Jon Kent's 66 and Kyle Abbott's 80 put them back on the right path. Glen Addicott's unbeaten 43, batting at No.9 was vital and the Dolphins were bowled out for 301.
They were expected to struggle in the field without their ace Imran Tahir, who is on national duty, but bowled the Titans out for 193. Abbott ended with a five-for as none of the Titans batsmen made it over the half-century mark. The Dolphins second innings only just managed to get underway, they had scored one run, a no-ball from Ethy Mbhalati when rain stopped play on day three. There was no play on day four and the spoils were shared. The Titans stay top of the table after the result.
The Lions have moved into second place after a high scoring draw against the Cobras in Paarl. The Cobras opted to field first and spent a difficult day chasing the ball. After the Lions were under some pressure at 97 for 3, Neil McKenzie and Zander de Bruyn demoralised the Cobras bowlers with a century apiece. Their fourth wicket partnership of 258 is a new first-class record for that wicket. Claude Henderson's five for 90 went almost unnoticed as the Lions were bowled out for 458.
It was then the Cobras turn to inflict suffering on the Lions bowlers. Owais Shah played his most notable innings since becoming the Cobras overseas professional with 151 and Ryan Canning chipped in with 121. The two innings were almost identical as the Lions spinner, Dale Deeb, took five for 131 and the Cobras were bowled out for 485.
The length of time taken meant that only a draw was possible and the Lions reached 113 for two in their second knock. Alviro Petersen, who is under pressure for his Test place was out for 44 and two in the either innings.
Bowler of the week: Two national discards made sure they got noticed. Rusty Theron took seven wickets for the Warriors and Albie Morkel an economical five-for for the Titans. Both are bidding for limited overs places but to show their ability in the longer version of the game is never a bad thing.
Batsman of the week: Neil McKenzie has been in rock solid form for the Lions all season. He continues to top the run charts with 771 runs and scored his third century this weekend. Perhaps a national recall is on the cards.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondentFeeds: Firdose Moonda
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