Elgar century signals Titans victory and return to full fitness
South Africa Test captain tunes up ahead of the series against India in mid-December
South Africa's Test captain Dean Elgar signalled his return to full fitness from an abductor injury with a hundred in his third red-ball innings this summer as the Titans registered their first win of the season. Elgar, who sustained the niggle during the T20 domestic competition, was one of four centurions for the Titans, who beat Western Province by an innings and 139 runs.
"The most important thing was that he got an opportunity to spend time at the crease and he took it. He has had a difficult few weeks so his goal was to make sure he is batting for a long period of time, knowing that if he does that, the runs will come," Mandla Mashimbyi, Titans coach told ESPNcricinfo.
Elgar and his opening partner Grant Mokoena, who top-scored with 154, shared in an opening stand of 231 before Jiveshan Pillay and Ayabulela Gqamane contributed 113* and 117* respectively to take the Titans to 647 for 7 declared. Despite the towering total, Mashimbyi indicated batting at Newlands was not as straightforward as the scorecard made it seem. "It was not a typical Cape Town wicket. It was a bit slowish so the batter really had to knuckle down," he said. "We found that once guys got in, things became a little easier."
Western Province batters barely managed that. There were only two scores over 40 in their first innings as Simon Harmer's 7 for 76 forced the follow-on, 452 runs behind. Harmer finished the match with 10 wickets, with Western Province bowled out for 313 in their second dig, where Daniel Smith and Kyle Verreynne made half-centuries.
The win puts the Titans in fourth place on the table and, with one round of fixtures to go before a break, Mashimbyi is hoping for a second victory in the Cape, over Boland this week, to consolidate their position in the top-half. For Elgar, the fixture will be doubly important as he seeks to maximise his competitive batting time ahead of South Africa's three-Test series against India, that begins in mid-December.
"Dean just wants to work on a couple of specifics: things like getting into good positions and watching the ball and it's just about emphasising those points," Mashimbyi said. "He knows his game well and he has been playing a long time, so with some more time in the middle, he will be ready for the Tests."
In other results:
- The Lions maintained their place at the top of the points table with an innings-and-30-run victory over Boland at the Wanderers. After bowling Boland out for 170, new ODI call-up Ryan Rickelton scored 117 as the Lions took a 180-run lead after their first innings. Boland were skittled out for 150 in their second innings with Duanne Olivier taking 5 for 57. Olivier finished with eight wickets in the match and is the competition's leading bowler with 20 wickets at an average of 12.30.
- The Warriors have climbed to third on the log after their 130-run win over North West in Potchefstroom. Edward Moore, Lesiba Ngoepe and Diego Rosier scored half-centuries to take the Warriors to a first innings 334. North West took the lead, scoring 350, thanks largely to Wesley Marshall's 94 before a big second innings from the Warriors swung the advantage their way. Matthew Breetzke's 152 and Rudi Second's 103* allowed them to declare on 342 for 2 and set North West 349 to win. They were bowled out for 218.
- Despite the win, the Warriors could not leapfrog the Knights, who are in second place after a draw against the Dolphins in a weather-affected match in Durban. The Knights bowled their hosts out for 226 and then declared their first innings closed on 397 for 4, with Matthew Kleinveldt contributing 177 but their 171-run lead could not force a result. The Dolphins second innings had reached 174 for 5 by the end of the fourth day.
- Sean Whitehead became the fourth South African to take all 10 wickets in an innings as South Western Districts earned a 120 run win over Easterns. Whitehead's performance came in the fourth innings of the match, with Easterns set a target of 186 runs to win. They were dismissed for 65. Whitehead took 15 in the match all told and is now joint-third on the overall bowling charts. Leus du Plooy's 91 and 85* made him the match's highest run-scorer.
- Kwa-Zulu-Natal Inland lead the Division Two points table after a seven-wicket win over Border. Thomas Kaber's 103* helped Border post 384 in their first innings which KZN Inland matched exactly. Tshepang Dithole scored 162 while Kaber took 5 for 109. Luke Schlemmer's 6 for 31 saw Border dismissed for 106 in their second innings and KZN Inland reached the target after losing just three wickets.
- In Polokwane, Limpopo and Northern Cape played out a draw despite a result appearing agonisingly close. Northern Cape were set 126 to win the match and finished on 121 for 7 with captain Aubrey Swanepoel unbeaten on 44 at the end. Earlier, Swanepoel took 7 for 56 as Northern Cape bowled Limpopo out for 290 and replied with 350, after Rivaldo Moonsamy's 101. Limpopo were dismissed for 185 in their second innings, which gave Northern Cape an opportunity to go for victory but they were unable to close out the game.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent