With the surprise windfall of the CSA 4-Day Series title approaching, the Northerns Titans could pay a heavy price for dropping four catches in the space of four overs bowled by ace off spinner Simon Harmer on the third day of their game against the Central Gauteng Lions at Centurion on Sunday.
With a huge 212 lead in the first innings, secured thanks to the commanding 143 of Theunis de Bruyn, Northerns had reduced the Lions to a parlous 46/4 in their second inning, still 166 behind. But Reeza Hendricks and Mitchell van Buuren were then dropped twice each close to the bat on Harmer. De Bruyn missed both batsmen on slip, and Gihahn Cloete also gave them each a life on short-leg. Both fielders would have felt that one of their misses was half a chance.
Not getting them out then nevertheless proved extremely expensive for the Titans, as Hendricks (73) and Van Buuren (31) knocked the Lions through at 130/4 with an unbeaten score of 84.
Lizaad Williams was excellent with the new ball for Northerns taking 2/5 in 11 overs including six girls.
Because rain prevented the Eastern Province Warriors from getting on the field in Bloemfontein, Northerns gave themselves a big chance to steal the four-day crown when they piled up 482 in their first innings.
The innings were built around De Bruyn’s epic six-hour knockout, in which he got 228 balls and played countless great strokes to collect 14 fours and four sixes.
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The Titans resumed the third day at 261/3 and it was a solid battle throughout the order, with Sibonelo Makhanya scoring 35, Cloete 34, Jiveshan Pillay 21 and Aya Gqamane 17. But Corbin Bosch preferred to steal the show in the afternoon when he hit a fiery 57 from just 65 balls.
Paceman Codi Yusuf made an impressive, skilful attempt with the ball, taking 5/91 in 28.5 overs.
From the Warriors point of view, it was very unfortunate that no play was possible on the third day of their game against the Free State Knights, with Eastern Province stranded at 166/3 in response to the hosts’ first innings of 227.
Eastern Province already has more points (116.14) on the log than the Lions (115.70) or Titans (113.56), but with the Northerns aiming for victory over Centurion, the Warriors may have to take on the Knights in some sort of limited-overs match within match on the last day if they want to win the title.
In the other games, a top class 198 didn’t lead by opener Pieter Malan de Boland Rocks to 389/7 in response to the KZN Dolphins’ total of 422, with a draw in Paarl.
It was a productive day at Newlands for Western County spinners George Linde (29-8-69-5) and Kyle Simmonds (14-5-24-4) as they faced North-West for 202 and forced the sequel .
North-West was 175/6 in their second innings on stumps, still facing a 199 run deficit. A few half-centuries of Wesley Marshall (58) and Senuran Muthusamy (67*) barely kept them afloat. Linde and Simmonds each took a different wicket.
Muthusamy also scored 53 in the Northwest’s first innings and shared a partnership of 58 for the fourth wicket with opener Lesego Senokwane (66), the tallest of the innings.