Theunis de Bruyn could only manage a duck back in the Knights side © Getty Images
A second successive round of draws in all three matches means the tournament has yet to come to life with the defending champions Knights leading the points table, 0.1 point ahead of Dolphins. The teams drew in a rained-affected affair in Durban.
With the first day lost entirely, chances of a result were always going to be slim. Dolphins declared on 426 for 8 after centuries from the opener Sarel Erwee and No. 4 Cody Chetty. Robbie Frylink’s 3 for 57 helped them claim a 135-run lead as Knights were bowled out for 291. But there was only time for 33 overs in Dolphins’ second innings and they extended their lead to 232, with a second successive fifty from Vaughn van Jaarsveld, before hands were shaken.
The other two matches both had chances of a result, with the contest between Warriors and Cobras in Port Elizabeth most likely to yield one.
Warriors piled on 452 for 6 in their first innings, with Edward Moore scoring a second century in as many games and Jerry Nqolo notching the first in his career. Cobras responded well, thanks to hundreds from Pieter Malan and Zubayr Hamza and declared 65 runs behind on 387 for 8. Warriors added 186 runs to set Cobras a target of 252 at a required rate of just over four to the over.
The St George’s Park pitch was having none of it and took turn to give Warriors a chance to win. Jon-Jon Smuts took four early wickets to reduce Cobras to 48 for 4 before Tabraiz Shamsi, on loan from Titans, chipped in with two scalps to leave them 94 for 6. Kyle Verreynne held out and even when captain Dane Piedt retired hurt after being hit on the arm, Warriors were not able to win the game.
In Centurion, wickets were also hard to come by with only one innings in which all 10 were taken. Titans bowled Lions out for 408 after scoring 452 for 7 declared. Former Titans’ captain Henry Davids top-scored with 137 while discarded Test opener Heino Kuhn made 73 and Farhaan Behardien 78. Lions were struggling on 212 for 6 but Wiaan Mulder scored his maiden first-class ton to keep their innings together.
Titans took a 44-run first innings lead and were reduced to 100 for 5 but Behardien’s unbeaten 67 helped them set Lions a target of 250 on the final afternoon. There was only time for 22 overs and Lions were 80 for 2 at the end.
On the national radar
Theunis de Bruyn was released from the national squad to captain Knights but he did not have a happy homecoming to his franchise. He was dismissed for a first-ball duck. David Miller, batting at No. 5, also failed with a score of 10.
There was better luck for the allrounders with Wiaan Mulder impressing days after being on standby with the Test squad. The Lions youngster was with the national side in the build up to the Potchefstroom Test as back-up for Wayne Parnell, who was included despite a groin injury. Mulder was released when Parnell passed a fitness test but not before he had the chance to talk to convener of selectors Linda Zondi. Whatever Zondi said must have worked – Mulder scored an unbeaten 127 in the match. Dwaine Pretorius was also impressive in holding an end. He conceded at 2.59 runs in the match and took two wickets while left-armer Beuran Hendricks took four.
After 12 centuries in the first round, there were nine in this one, so again, accolades belonged to the batsmen. Apart from those already mentioned, the hundred that stood out came from Knights’ Pite van Biljon. The middle-order batsman could not find a spot in the XI opening round, even though he was due to captain them, but returned to show that he deserves to be in contention as often as possible. His 105 and 178-run fifth-wicket stand with Rudi Second took Knights from 60 for 4 in reply to Dolphins’ 426 for 8 declared to 238 for 5 and set up their saving of the game.
While batsmen dominated, Smuts was the leading bowler of the round with almost identical figures in each innings against Cobras: 4 for 38 in the first, 4 for 39 in the second. Dolphins’ left-arm spinner Senuran Muthusamy took 4 for 64 against Knights.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo