Cobras stay second as bad weather takes toll
There was just one result from the three fixtures in the eighth round of the SuperSport Series this week, with rain playing a big part in the all the matches.
Cobras earned a nine-wicket win over Dolphins in Durban to move to second place on the table, 12.12 points behind the Titans. With wet weather hanging over Kingsmead, the Dolphins put the Cobras in to bat first and had early success. Seamers Quinton Friend, Jon Kent and Mthokozisi Shezi took four early wickets between them to have Cobras pegged back on 55 for 4. Skipper Justin Kemp rode to the Cobras' rescue and a 137-run stand for the fifth wicket with Justin Ontong effectively set the platform for their victory. Kemp finished unbeaten on 135, Friend with 4 for 80 and the Cobras were bowled out for 360.
The Dolphins were never allowed to settle in their knock and were bowled out for 162, incurring a deficit of 198 runs. Vernon Philander, who took 4 for 47, and Rory Kleinveldt, who ended with 3 for 30, did the bulk of the damage. The Dolphins were made to follow on and managed 255 in their second stint at the crease. They had a decent start with Devon Conway and Imran Khan scoring 35 and 37 respectively. The rest of the order crumbled and only Jon Kent's half-century saved them from an innings defeat. Philander's 4 for 49 saw him amongst the wickets again. The Cobras were set a target of 63 to win. They reached with only the loss of Alastair Gray for 15.
In East London, play was only possible for the first two days of the match between the Warriors and the Titans. Jacques Rudolph's continued claim for a national recall was the feature of the Titans innings. Rudolph scored 105 in the Titans total of 256. It was his third hundred in eight matches and takes him just 45 runs behind the competitions top scorer Neil McKenzie. Andrew Birch ran through the rest of the Titans line-up taking 6 for 52 while Farhaan Berhadien contributed 63 and Albie Morkel a confidence boosting unbeaten 55.
The Warriors lost both their openers for ducks in reply. Brad Bennet was bowled by Morkel and Michael Price suffered a similar fate at the hands of Ethy Mbhalati. Jon-Jon Smuts settled in comfortably and scored 131. He was ably assisted by Arno Jacobs who scored 63 and Craig Thyssen, who was unbeaten on 67. Eden Links' 4 for 71 was the most successful return by a Titans bowler. The heavens opened with the Warriors on 307 for 6, leading by 51, and by the end of the match had not closed.
The Lions and the Knights also only managed one innings apiece in their clash in Bloemfontein. The Knights set themselves up for a long period in the field when they chose to send the Lions in to bat. Steven Cook and Alviro Petersen put on 99 for the first wicket with Petersen finishing on 52 and Cook going on to make 106. The innings belonged to young Temba Bavuma who scored 124 in just his second first-class game. The Lions declared on 336 for 9 in 98 overs.
In reply, the Knights were in all sorts of trouble at 124 for 5. Dean Elgar was still at the crease on 66, but the rest of the top five were out in the single digits. Ethan O'Reilly took 2 for 33 and Friedel de Wet 2 for 11. Despite a strong performance by the Lions, they slip to fourth on the table, with the Dolphins moving into third. The competition takes a two month break to make way for the Standard Bank Pro20, which starts next Friday.
Batsman of the week: Temba Bavuma came in as a late replacement for McKenzie, who had a calf injury and made the most of his opportunity. He scored his maiden SuperSport Series century to boost his franchise career.
Bowler of the week: Vernon Philander's eight-wicket match haul went a long way to helping the Cobras beat the Dolphins. Philander has 35 wickets in the competition at an average of 16.11.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent