Knights hold commanding lead
Johan van der Wath (Gallo Images)
Kimberley - The Knights have moved into a commanding position after two days of their Sunfoil Series match against the Highveld Lions in Kimberley.
When stumps were drawn on Friday, they already enjoyed a lead of 168 with nine second innings wickets in hand.
A cavalier innings from Imran Tahir saw the Highveld Lions avoid the possibility of a follow-on, while Johan van der Wath and Malusi Siboto ran through the earlier batting.
There was some early morning resistance from tail-enders Shadley van Schalkwyk and Malusi Siboto, stretching the Knights first innings total to 348 before Hardus Viljoen claimed a third wicket to end the innings.
The Highveld Lions made a rollicking start, openers Stephen Cook and Dominic Hendricks taking 22 off the first two overs. The Knights tightened up after that, restricting the scoring to singles for some time. Cook departed for 28 out of an opening partnership of 57 shortly before the lunch break.
Wickets tumbled after lunch as the Highveld Lions lost four in adding just 51. This impacted severely on their ability to chase bonus points. Thami Tsolekile spent almost an hour at the crease for his six runs, while at the break Neil McKenzie had scored just 19 off 63 balls.
McKenzie must have found some inspiration in the tea leaves. After taking a single from the first ball of the session, he hit Werner Coetsee for four in the next over and the following ball disappeared high over the long-on boundary.
With Brett Pelser joining the party, the off-spinner's first two overs cost 24, but he came back with a maiden. He was replaced shortly afterwards by Siboto, who was to bowl a crucial spell of nine overs in which he took three wickets.
Pelser was the first, caught behind, and he added the wicket of Cliffe Deacon, trapped in front after getting going with a flurry of boundaries. Hardus Viljoen followed, and with McKenzie going earlier for off a patient 114 balls, the Highveld Lions were nine down and still 170 behind.
Imran Tahir produced an entertaining, old-fashioned number 11 innings. He found the edge as often as the middle of the bat, but some solid boundaries dispelled any thoughts of the follow-on. He was caught on the mid wicket boundary on 24, but the fielder's momentum took him over the rope, and Tahir celebrated by hitting the next ball even further.
Johan van der Wath eventually stopped the nonsense, assisted by an excellent catch in the slips by Rilee Rossouw. Tahir scored his 36 off just 26 balls with five fours and two sixes, dominating a tenth wicket partnership of 41 with Chris Morris.
Still, the Knights had a useful first innings lead of 129. Van der Wath finished with three for 55 and Siboto three for 54, claiming all of his wickets in his final spell. Van Schalkwyk also finished with tidy figures of two for 21 in 14 overs.