The VKB Knights enjoyed a good first day in their Sunfoil Series match at SuperSport Park in Centurion as they chase the log-leading Unlimited Titans, reducing the home side to 240 for six at stumps on Thursday.
The Titans, having won the toss and elected to bat, were in a commanding position at 187 for two just two balls before tea, but Theunis de Bruyn then decided to chase a wide half-volley, was caught behind and the momentum shifted the way of the Knights, who finished the day strongly with four wickets for 53 runs.
The Titans had dominated the morning session thanks to openers Heino Kuhn and Dean Elgar, who added 90 before the lunch break.
But whatever Duanne Olivier had for lunch, it must have been good as he struck two blows in his first three overs after the break, having Kuhn caught behind for 45 and then bowling Grant Mokoena for six when the batsman shouldered arms to a delivery that hit the top of off-stump.
Elgar and De Bruyn prospered, however, on the straw-coloured pitch, adding 81 for the third wicket and building a solid foundation for the Titans’ first innings. They both looked safe as houses until De Bruyn, who had stroked five stylish boundaries in his 40 off 81 balls, hit out rashly at the unthreatening left-arm seam of Mbulelo Budaza and edged behind to Rudi Second.
The 23-year-old De Bruyn has all the talent in the world, but needs to learn the art of going big when well set and not getting out at key moments like a couple of balls before tea.
Things would go from bad to worse for the Titans as Elgar, who had gone to a gritty 79 in four-and-a-half hours at the crease, would fall in the next over after the break.
Perhaps he was unsettled after ducking into a short delivery from Malusi Siboto that did not get up as, two balls later, he tried to push the probing seamer into the leg-side, but the stroke was so mistimed that the ball would go high to short fine-leg instead, where wicketkeeper Second ran to take his third catch.
Captain Henry Davids and Qaasim Adams took the Titans through to 219 for four before the Knights went chasing after wickets with the second new ball.
Shadley van Schalkwyk burst through Davids’ defences with a full ball, bowling him for 26, and strike bowler Olivier (21-3-45-3) knocked over Grant Thomson (5), finding the stumps with a delivery that jagged back through the gate and kept low.
Adams (17*) and Mangaliso Mosehle (3*) will go in search of valuable lower-order runs for the Titans on the second morning.