Titans in complete control
Ethy Mbhalati (Gallo Images)
Pretotia - A five-wicket haul from Ethy Mbhalati and a half-century from Jacques Rudolph put the Nashua Titans in a commanding position at stumps on the first day of their SuperSport Series match against the Chevrolet Warriors at SuperSport Park in Centurion on Thursday.
Paceman Mbhalati produced the superb figures of five for 33 off 14 overs as the Warriors were bowled out for a paltry 89 just under an hour after lunch.
Opening batsman Rudolph then weighed in with 72 as the Titans reached 183 for three at the close of play, an overall lead of 94 runs on the first innings.
Mbhalati had earlier ripped through the Warrior’s top-order and his opening spell produced figures of 7-3-8-3 as the visitors slumped to nine for four inside 12 overs.
The Warriors were brought down to earth with a bump after their Champions League Twenty20 heroics and they could not even blame a dodgy pitch as the SuperSport Park wicket played true during the morning session.
The Eastern Cape franchise was not helped by the withdrawal of their inspirational skipper, Davy Jacobs, who pulled out of the match suffering with a back injury.
Mbhalati accounted for Justin Kreusch (nought) and Colin Ingram (one) before seamer De Villiers claimed a wicket with his first ball of the match when he bowled Jon-Jon Smuts (six).
The Warriors, after winning the toss and electing to bat, were struggling on nine for three and their lot was not improved when the lanky Mbhalati had Ashwell Prince (nought) caught behind by keeper Heino Kuhn.
A 14-run fifth-wicket stand between Arno Jacobs (four) and Craig Thyssen (five) halted the Titans’ charge for five overs but De Villiers ended the brief resistance when he bowled Thyssen to leave the Warriors on a parlous 23 for five.
In keeping with the general theme of the morning’s play Jacobs failed to make much of an impression with the bat before being caught behind off the bowling of paceman Morne Morkel.
The visitors were in all sorts of trouble on 28 for six but a 28-run seventh-wicket partnership between Theron (16) and Johan Botha restored just a touch of respectability to the score before Mbhalati had Theron caught behind.
The Warriors took lunch on a precarious 56 for seven and they added just two runs after the break before fast bowler Morne Morkel completed a caught and bowled effort to dismiss Kruger (one).
Botha was rapidly running out of support and he launched a late flurry of blows, which included eight fours in his knock of 42, before he was dismissed by Mbhalati to give the bowler his third five-wicket haul in first-class cricket.
One run after Botha’s dismissal the innings was at an end when left-arm seamer Clayton August bowled Lonwabo Tsotsobe (two). Makhaya Ntini, who had yet to score, was the not out batsman.
De Villiers chipped in with two for 16 while Morkel was particularly miserly as he claimed two for 11 off 13 overs.
The Titans reply was dominated by a second-wicket stand of 98 between Rudolph and Gulam Bodi (44).
Rudolph reached his half-century off 73 balls before Bodi fell when he top-edged a delivery from off-spinner Johan Botha and was caught by Ashwell Prince at first slip.
One run later Rudolph was on his way back the pavilion after he was bowled by seamer Rusty Theron but Farhaan Behardien (25 not out) and Kuhn (17 not out) saw their team to the close without the loss of any further wickets.
– Blake Snijman, Jacques Rudolph (capt), Faf du Plessis, Gulam Bodi, Farhaan Behardien, Heino Kuhn (wk), Roelof van der Merwe, Clayton August, Morne Morkel, CJ de Villiers, Ethy Mbhalati.Chevrolet Warriors
– Jon-Jon Smuts, Justin Kreusch, Colin Ingram, Ashwell Prince, Arno Jacobs (wk), Craig Thyssen, Johan Botha (capt), Makhaya Ntini, Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Garnett Kruger, Rusty Theron.