Cape Town - An unbroken 145-run opening stand between Victor Mahlangu and Wesley Marshall kept the Titans afloat after they were fighting to salvage a draw on the third day of their 4-Day Franchise Series encounter against the Knights in Bloemfontein on Wednesday.
Both hit half-centuries in what was a follow-on innings at the Mangaung Oval where the log leaders were earlier dismissed for 211 in response to 541 for seven declared by the hosts.
All the bowlers picked up wickets for the Central Franchise, but they failed to replicate that in the second innings and were thwarted by Mahlangu and Marshall, who scored 74 (131 balls, 11 fours, 1 six) and 63 (121 balls, 8 fours) respectively.
The performances of the openers left the away side still needing 185 to make the home side bat again – or bat out the final day to earn a draw.
The Titans had started day three in trouble already on 75 for three and they kept losing wickets regularly throughout their 78.2 overs in the middle.
Heinrich Klaasen, back with the team after recently making his Test debut for the Proteas in India, top-scored with 67 (112 balls, 9 fours, 1 six), but even after his innings the Centurion-based side looked to be doomed.
They had slipped to 165 for nine, with the real rescue act coming from Matthew Arnold, whose highest franchise score of 52 (80 balls, 7 fours, 1 six) lifted his side to their eventual 211 after a last-wicket partnership of 46 with Tabraiz Shamsi (three not out).
The pick of the bowlers was Tshepo Ntuli with two for seven, while there were also doubles from Patrick Kruger (2/9), Gerald Coetzee (2/52) and Shaun von Berg (2/86).
But the same bowlers failed to strike at the second time of asking as Mahlangu and Marshall gave the Titans a final-day chance.