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November 24, 2013
Lions make strong start
Lions 419 (Cook 113, Pienaar 3-72) and 219 (Hendricks 63, Richards 4-39) beat Titans 319 (Kuhn 88, Viljoen 5-72) and 114 (Viljoen 3-34, Morris 3-35) by 205 runs
An eight-wicket match haul from Hardus Viljoen led the Lions to a massive victory in the Jukskei derby. Chasing 320 to win, Titans imploded against Lions' pacers, leaving just five wickets to be plucked on the final morning.
The match was over before lunch as Pumelela Matshikwe, who went wicketless despite maintaining exemplary control in the first innings, got among the scalps. Lions' spinner Eddie Leie also claimed a couple of wickets, including the final one to end an all-round dominant performance by Geoffrey Toyana's men.
Lions took control early on, after Titans put them in to bat under cloudy skies on Thursday. A 172-run second wicket stand between Stephen Cook and Temba Bavuma set up their first innings. Cook went to on to register a century and Bavuma looked set to do the same but gave it away when he was on 88, dancing down the track to spinner Roelof van der Merwe.
With Thami Tsolekile marshalling the tail, Lions batted deep to ensure even Cobus Pienaar's late strikes did not allow them to lose the advantage. Pienaar threatened to swing the pendulum with bat in hand. Together with an in-form Heino Kuhn, he put on 158 for the second wicket before becoming Chris Morris' only victim.
After Kuhn was dismissed, Titans lost three wickets for four runs, all to Viljoen, to leave the Titans on 216 for 6. Farhaan Behardien kept the lower middle order together but Zander de Bruyn's late strikes ensured the Lions took a 100-run first-innings lead.
Lions openers pressed home the advantage as Cook and Dominic Hendricks shared a 101-run partnership. Once the openers were dismissed, Rowan Richards struck quickly and Lions were in some trouble at 149 for 4. Not one of their last eight batsmen apart from Tsolekile managed double-figures and even though Titans could be pleased with their bowling effort, it was still a tall order for their batsmen.
The match was over on the third afternoon when Morris ripped through the top order. All the top five were dismissed for single figure scores to leave Titans at 20 for 5 overnight. Lions finished up on Sunday morning to take a morale-boosting win after finishing last in the One-Day Cup.
Knights 324 (Elgar 122, Birch 3-67) and 284 (Van der Wath 77*, Harmer 5-92) drew with Warriors 398 (Ingram 79, Coetsee 4-123)
A final session which seemed destined for a thrilling finish - Warriors were set a target of 210 in 30 overs - was not to be when the captains agreed to call the match off at tea. Instead, this contest was about individual performances as players look to get themselves noticed by the national selectors.
Dean Elgar was the first to put his hand up. He scored 122 in Knights' first innings to push for the Test opening berth. With not much in the East London surface for the seamers, Elgar handled Warriors' pack, with Adrian Birch and Rusty Theron bowling well, with relative ease and steadied Knights after the rest of their top order folded.
His 113-run partnership with Werner Coetsee for the fifth-wicket put his team in a position from which they could total over 300. But it was up to Lefa Mosena, playing for the franchise for the first time in a four-day match, to up the ante. He scored a measured 73 to take the Knights to 324.
Warriors responded with the cool temperament their stalwart Ashwell Prince is known for. He put on 134 runs with David White before being dimissed by another stalwart, Johann van der Wath. The rest of Warriors' line-up all got starts, with Colin Ingram also registering a half-century. Even though none of them could convert to triple figures, they took a first-innings lead of 74.
Knights lost Elgar before the deficit was wiped away as he played down the leg side to a Simon Harmer delivery and was caught behind, but Knights built steadily. Reeza Hendricks, Rilee Rossouw and Rudi Second batted patiently but with Harmer turning the ball sizeably, Knights were soon in trouble.
At 148 for 6, their lead was only 74 and a swift end to the innings would have seen Warriors push for victory. Van der Wath resisted for more than three hours, though, so much so that Warriors took the extra half an hour before tea to try and end the innings.
Harmer finished with five and Ayabulela Gqamane took the final wicket to end a fine second-innings performance but with the clock ticking, both captains agreed to shake hands on the draw.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondentFeeds: Firdose Moonda
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