Cape Town - Andrew Birch starred with bat and ball as the Warriors held
the upper hand at the halfway stage of their Sunfoil Series clash against the Highveld Lions at the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg on Friday.
The fast bowler first finished with 4/57 as the hosts were
bowled out for 308, before hitting an unbeaten 82 (96 balls, 14 fours) as the
visitors were bowled out for 356 on the stroke of stumps – a lead of 48.
Lesiba Ngoepe was the only other major contributor for the
Warriors with his best-ever franchise cricket score of 95 (137 balls, 15 fours,
The performance of the pair overshadowed the impressive 6/81
taken by Proteas all-rounder Dwaine Pretorius as the match was
left intriguingly poised after two days of action.
The Lions had started the day batting on 302/8, but their
hopes of a wagging tail were wiped away within 12 balls as Birch and Sisanda
Magala (3/65) struck instantly.
But the Warriors soon found themselves in trouble of their
own as they fell to 24/2. They were rescued, however, by three partnerships in
the 60s and an innings-high ninth wicket stand of 84 between Birch and Magala
Birch was involved in the latter two substantial
partnerships, while Ngoepe played a key role in the initial two, in the process
beating his previous best score of 45 scored earlier this season against the
Scores in brief:
Lions 308 (Van den Bergh 99, Pretorius 97, Birch 4/57)
Warriors 356 (Ngoepe 95, Birch 82*, Pretorius 6/81)
Lions trail by 48 runs with 10 second-innings wickets remaining