On the same pitch on which South Africa scored billions of runs just two weeks ago, the Lions could never get close to a run-a-ball, despite a solid platform laid by the top three.
The Knights won the toss and gave the Lions batsmen first use of a bare, bouncy pitch and openers Stephen Cook and Rassie van der Dussen gave the home side an ideal start by bringing up their fifty partnership off 66 balls.
A shifting of gears was required but Cook (34 off 39, 5×4) tried to pull a delivery from fast bowler Quinton Friend and, cramped for time and space, he could only dolly a simple catch to midwicket.
Alviro Petersen came in and looked top-class as he cruised to 39 off 51 balls, with five fours, before paceman Dillon du Preez held on to a sharp return catch.
The Lions were still in a strong position on 124 for two after 28 overs, but a dramatic middle-order collapse then ensued as they slumped to 162 for seven in the 41st over.
Van der Dussen’s 57 off 90 balls was a passable effort in terms of building a foundation, but he needed to go on and anchor the innings. Instead he became one of three wickets to fall in four deliveries as he drove outside off stump and was caught behind off Shadley van Schalkwyk.
Temba Bavuma (3), caught trying to pull Du Preez, Neil McKenzie (15), top-edging a sweep off Werner Coetsee, and Dwaine Pretorius, caught behind for a duck off Van Schalkwyk as he wafted outside off stump, all made little impression.
Hardus Viljoen was brilliantly caught by a diving Michael Erlank in the covers for 10 off Du Preez.
Thami Tsolekile (34) and Kagiso Rabada (22) did at least add 49 off 45 balls for the eighth wicket to give the Lions something to bowl at, but the probing Knights bowlers remained in control throughout the innings.
Du Preez was outstanding with four for 34 in 10 overs – yes, he even bowled yorkers regularly at the death – while Shadley van Schalkwyk (10-2-43-2) and Quinton Friend (10-1-45-1) could also be happy with their contributions.