Potch battle in the balance
Ryan Bailey (Gallo Images)
Potchefstroom - An unbeaten
half-century from captain Ryan McLaren helped the Knights reach a
score of 272/8 in reply to the Highveld Lions' first innings
total of 348 before bad light brought a premature end to the second day’s play
at Senwes Park in Potchefstroom on Friday.
Rossouw had earlier made 97, and his third-wicket partnership of 156 with Ryan
Bailey had put the visitors in a good position. But a middle-order collapse put
the Knights under immense pressure, and it was left to McLaren and
Quinton Friend to resurrect the innings late in the day’s play.
The Highveld Lions had resumed the day on 332/7 in their first innings,
with Thami Tsolekile and Garnett Kruger enjoying overnight scores of 44 and
three not out respectively. The Knights were swift in their efforts
to wrap up the tail though, as Kruger fell in the third over of the day to
Johan van der Wath with the score on 342.
who was looking to make an impression on the national selectors, could only
manage two more runs before being caught behind off Quinton Friend. Pumelela
Matshikwe was then the last man to go as Van der Wath had him clean bowled an
over later, yielding the 34 year-old quick fine figures of 5-63.
The Knights reply got off to the worst possible start, though, as Kruger
had left-handed opener Michael Erlank caught behind off the very first ball of
the innings. His opening partner, Rudi Second, joined him in the pavilion two
overs later as Kruger claimed his second victim to leave the visitors reeling
at three for two.
Bailey absorbed some good pressure from the fired-up bowlers, and their brave
efforts allowed the Knights to reach lunch on a more respectable
score of 42/2.
counter-punch then came off the blade of Rossouw after the interval, as he put
the heat back on to the Lions attack with a dazzling display of strokeplay.
After finding the fence on a regular basis, the 23-year-old left-hander brought
up his half-century with a controlled pull through mid-wicket. A few overs
later, he brought up another milestone as a push for two through the covers
brought up his 3 000th run in first-class cricket.
right-handed Bailey had initially been the more circumspect of the two batsmen,
but his confidence grew in the presence of his more aggressive partner, and
after the pair had put on 100 he began to accelerate his innings. A big six
over mid-on off Eddie Leie was the catalyst, and two overs later he brought up
his own half-century and the 150 for his side with another fine stroke for
continued on his merry way in the meantime, but with half an hour until tea, he
fell to the bowling of Brett Pelser just three short of a richly deserved
century. However, his scorching 120-ball knock, which included 18 boundaries,
had put his side into a useful position at 159/3.
The new man
in was Obus Pienaar, and he and Bailey looked to have done the hard work in the
remaining overs before the interval. But Pienaar was trapped in front by Imran
Tahir with just three balls left, and the visitors thus went into the break on
184 for four.
Knights were now in need of consolidating the good work done during
the third-wicket partnership, but Bailey lasted just five more overs before
being clean bowled by Kruger. He left the park with a well-played 78 to his
name, but the Highveld Lions could now sense an opportunity to impose
themselves on the game with the score at 196/5.
did just that as Kruger then removed Werner Coetsee and Van der Wath in the
space of just two overs to rack up his five-for, before Tahir had Shadley van
Schalkwyk caught at mid-on to suddenly leave the batting side in disarray at
Knights skipper McLaren, who had seen four wickets fall around him, finally
received some much-needed support in the form of tail-ender Friend, and he kept
things ticking over as he brought up the 250 for his side just as the new ball
Matshikwe were tasked with making the new cherry count in the final nine overs
of the day, but McLaren and Friend were proving hard to dislodge, and the
captain brought up his half-century four overs later to round off a superb
continued to frustrate the hosts, and they remained resolute until bad light
brought an end to the day’s play with the Knights on 272/8 –
just 76 runs behind the Highveld Lions.
McLaren will resume day three on
52 not out, while Friend’s stubborn resistance has seen him reach 14 not out
from 69 balls.
Lions will claim all four bowling points if they take at least one
wicket in the first 14.2 overs of play tomorrow, while the Knights
will be looking to add to the tally of 3.44 batting points that they have
amassed thus far.