The Titans surged to their first win of the season with a massive innings and 38-run victory over the Dolphins in Centurion, and they did it courtesy two franchise debutants. Aiden Markram and Lungi Ngidi were both making their maiden first-class appearances for the Titans and showed that the young talent in Centurion is blossoming.
Ngidi was first to the fore when he took four wickets in an opening spell that reduced the Dolphins to 61 for 4 in the 21st over. Senuran Muthusamy was the only Dolphins batsmen to show some fight and scored 52 but with no half-century stands, the Dolphins struggled to get over 200. They eked over the mark but not before Ngidi had picked up his fifth.
Markram was promoted to the franchise team in the absence of Dean Elgar, who has left on Test duty, and he was a perfect fit. He partnered Heino Kuhn in an opening stand of 203 and then put on 120 with Grant Mokoena for the second wicket while scoring 162 of his own. The Titans were well in the lead by the time Markram was dismissed with the Dolphins unable to make many inroads despite the return of Andile Phehlukwayo. Although none of the Titans bottom seven batsmen made more than 32, they batted into the third day and amassed 432, a lead of 225.
A worn-out Dolphins line-up up could not muster much resistance and by the time Ngidi bowled again, they were already three down. Khaya Zondo scored 68 but the Titans' attack proved too strong for the rest. Wickets were shared all round with three each for Rowan Richards and Malusi Siboto while Ngigi added two for a match haul of seven. The Dolphins won their first two fixtures but only picked up 4.14 points in this match to drop off the top of the points table.
At the other end of the log, the Cape Cobras remain in last place despite their high-scoring draw against the Warriors at Newlands. On a flat track, both teams racked up totals over 500 with no time for either to get into a second innings.
The Warriors' batsmen made first use of the surface. After Michael Price and Edward Moore put on 113 for the first wicket, new Leicestershire signing Colin Ackermann scored a career-best 146. Yaseen Vallie and Somilar Seyibokwe managed half-centuries each as the bowlers conceded unenviable amounts of runs. Beuran Hendricks gave away 100 runs while Tsepo Moreki and Test discard Dane Piedt had 110 and 155 runs taken off them. Piedt bowled a marathon 43 overs before the Warrriors declared on 525 for 7 on the second day.
If they thought they had done enough to intimidate a Cobras side deep in turmoil over the future of coach Paul Adams, they were wrong. Omphile Ramela and Andrew Puttick, both of whom are among the players unhappy with Adams, put their troubles aside and scored 266 for the opening stand. It took Warriors 106.4 overs before they got their first wicket, when Puttick was bowled on 124. Ramela went on to make 170. Jason Smith, fresh off a half-century last weekend, was the other Cobras batsmen to record a milestone. He scored 63.
The Warriors' bowlers also took punishment. Sisanda Magala conceded 101 while another spinner no longer looked at at Test level, Simon Harmer, toiled the hardest. He bowled 69 overs for 176 runs before the teams shook hands on a draw in the third session on the final day.
There was also no winner in Kimberley where the Knights and the Lions shared spoils, although the Knights will be the happier of the two sides. Their 8.88 points took them to the top of the table and Duanne Olivier's nine-wicket match haul means he now leads the wicket charts.
After choosing to bat, the Lions were in early trouble at 133 for 4 but Nicky van den Bergh and Dwaine Pretorius took them out of it. They put on 83 runs for the fifth wicket and van den Burgh went on to score a century which was then topped up by Willem Mulder. The schoolboy shared in a 132-run eight-wicket partnership with Bjorn Fortuin and the Lions were dismissed for 483 - their first total over 300 this season.
On a docile surface and with their big international name, David Miller, making his first appearance for them, the Knights had a ready response. Michael Erlank and Miller put on 243 for the third wicket and Miller went on to a career-best 177. The Lions' attack was kept in the field for 142 overs before they bowled the Knights out, with Aya Myoli taking 4 for 145.
The Knights made their 89-run first innings lead appear all the more valuable when their attack reduced the Lions to 92 for 5. Pretorius and Dominic Hendricks steadied the second innings with a 109-run sixth-wicket partnership before Olivier got in on the action. He took four wickets on the third afternoon even as the Lions took their lead over 200. Mangalisio Mosehle's 67 kept the Knights at bay and there was not enough time for them to try and push for a victory.