The VKB Knights and Dolphins claimed comfortable victories at home in the opening round of matches while Newlands hosted a dramatic encounter, which the Titans won by two wickets.
FIVE centuries, including a matching-winning fourth-innings effort by Theunis de Bruyn lit up the first bit of professional cricket seen in South Africa for eight months.
The VKB Knights and Dolphins claimed comfortable victories at home in the opening round of matches in the 4-Day Franchise Series against the Warriors and Highveld Lions respectively, while Newlands hosted a dramatic encounter, which the Titans won by two wickets just before lunch on the final day, successfully chasing down 316.
The visitors from Centurion had conceded a first innings deficit of 114 after being bowled out for 150, with Dean Elgar scoring 101 out of that total. In the second innings De Bruyn took control after Elgar and Aiden Markram had shared an opening stand of 101, which came at a rate of more than four an over. De Bruyn has played 12 Tests, but has never looked comfortable in the elite arena.
There is no doubting his talent or thirst for runs however, and scoring 127 in the final innings to set up a successful run chase will do his confidence the world of good and will have drawn the attention of new convenor of selectors Victor Mpitsang.
Junior Dala is another who won’t quickly forget the match, mainly for his contributions with the bat; in the first he innings he faced 82 balls in his role as nightwatchman, and in the second innings he finished not out on 41, after sharing a crucial 54-run partnership for the seventh wicket with De Bruyn.
The Cobras will rue their batsmen’s efforts; in the first innings four of the top five batsmen got to double figures but none turned those starts into scores of substance, while in the second innings, they slumped to 29/3 inside 16 overs.
The two standout performers with the ball were spinners; George Linde who claimed match figures of 9/188, while Tabraiz Shamsi’s left-arm wrist-spin netted him seven wickets.
In fact spinners dominated the opening round. In Bloemfontein Jacques Snyman and Shaun von Berg picked up nine wickets between them in the Knights’ 179-run victory against a Warriors team which had to withdraw six players from the squad before the match owing to Covid-19.
Snyman’s bruising 109 in the first innings off just 78 balls which included 18 fours and two sixes, was the highlight of a dominant first innings display by the Knights in which four other players made half-centuries.
In Durban, the Lions were made to pay for a careless first innings display in which just two batsmen got half-centuries in what were good conditions for batting. The Dolphins duo of Sarel Erwee (199) and Keegan Petersen (173) showed just how good a pitch it was with a second-wicket partnership of 337 as the hosts posted 458/3 declared in the first innings.
Keshav Maharaj got to work as the surface started deteriorating, claiming 6/101 in 38.4 overs as the Lions were bowled out for 210 in their innings, leaving the Dolphins 11 runs to score for victory, which they did for the loss of one wicket.