Viljoen seals Lions' win; Markram, von Berg take Titans to the top

File photo - Aiden Markram scored his second consecutive hundred to set up Titans' win Getty/ICC

Aiden Markram's second successive hundred and legspinner Shaun von Berg's ten-wicket match-haul lifted the Titans to first place in the Sunfoil Series, as they defeated the Cape Cobras by an innings and 50 runs at Newlands in Cape Town.

Cobras were reduced to 74 for 4 in the first innings after Titans captain Henry Davids put them in. Stiaan van Zyl (65), who was dropped from the South Africa Test squad for the tour of Australia, stitched together a 92-run partnership with Justin Ontong (45) to stabilise the innings. However, they lost 3 for 8 in a span of 8.1 overs, to be reduced to 174 for 7. The tail then managed to drag the score to 235, before von Berg took his fifth wicket to bowl them out.

Markram lost his opening partner Heino Kuhn with only 33 on the board, but put on 122 for the second wicket with Grant Mokoena (59) and 75 for the fourth with Farhaan Behardien (79) as he secured the lead for his team, before falling for 139. Qaasim Adams' 58-run partnership for the seventh wicket with David Wiese (31) took the Titans to 393 for 7 before a collapse resulted in them folding for 400. Dane Piedt and Rory Kleinveldt took three wickets each for the Cobras.

In the second innings, only four Cobras batsmen managed to get into double figures. Van Zyl (32*) and Ontong (20) once again briefly rescued the innings with a 42-run sixth-wicket stand after coming together at 44 for 5. Von Berg, who had Ontong caught by Wiese for the second time in the match, completed his five-wicket haul shortly after. Henry Davids took the last two wickets as Cobras slumped to their third loss this season.

A day-four fourth innings collapse of the Warriors, fashioned by pacer Hardus Viljoen, handed the Lions a 148-run victory in Johannesburg. Needing 288 to win on the final day, the Warriors were reduced from 34 for 0 to 34 for 3 in 11 balls.

The Lions elected to bat, and Nicky van den Bergh's 99 and Dwaine Pretorius' 97 took them to 308; the pair added 180 in partnership, the only significant stand in the innings - no other partnerships touched 40 runs. Andrew Birch and Sisanda Magala shared seven wickets between them for the Warriors.

In reply, the Warriors were wobbling at 24 for 2 with both their openers dismissed early before Lesiba Ngoepe put on 95 runs - the third batsman to be dismissed in the 90s in the game - in partnership with the middle-order to take his side closer to the Lions' first innings score, before Pretorius rattled them further in returning 6 for 81. Birch, who came in to bat at No. 9, contributed 82 crucial runs to take his side from 201 for 7 to 356, a 48-run lead.

A 98-run opening partnership for the Lions scratched out any advantage the Warriors had; openers Reeza Hendricks and Rassie van der Dussen scored 48 and 51 respectively. At one-down, Dominic Hendricks scored his second fifty in as many games; his 61 along with Yaseen Valli's 40 led the Lions to 335, before they declared early on day four.

So the Warriors were chasing 288 and ran into Viljoen, who picked up three of the top-four batsmen in the side before coming back to polish off the innings. The Warriors captain Simon Harmer - who already had a match haul of six - top scored with 42 from No. 8 as the team slid to 139 all out.

Robin Peterson starred with six wickets for the Knights, while Imran Tahir and Senuran Muthusamy took four each for the Dolphins, in a draw in Durban. The match had only 188.2 overs being bowled due to inclement weather, with day two completely washed out.

The Knights put the Dolphins in to bat, and they started well, with openers Sarel Erwee and Imraan Khan putting on a 123-run stand. The duo scored 58 and 59 respectively, but with no one else scoring a half-century, the team was eventually dismissed for 311. Peterson took his first two wickets off consecutive deliveries before finishing with 6 for 83 off 21 overs.

In response, the Knights lost both their openers on 36 in consecutive overs. But a 107-run partnership between South Africa international David Miller (60) and wicketkeeper Rudi Second took the team past 150. With no other batsman crossing 20, though, Tahir and Muthusamy enjoyed a lot of success as the Knights were all out for 221.

The Dolphins came out to bat once again and they blocked their way to 12 runs off the nine overs they faced in the second innings.