Cape Town - Half-centuries from Neil McKenzie and Dale Deeb gave the Highveld Lions an extensive first-innings lead and left the Cape Cobras scrapping for survival on the third day of their Sunfoil Series encounter at Senwes Park.
McKenzie hit 76 and Deeb scored 55 as the Lions scored 475 in their first innings to lead by 175 runs, before Sean Jamison dismissed Richard Levi as the Cobras closed on 52 for one.
An intriguing final day is, therefore, in store, with the Cobras still trailing by 123 runs with nine wickets in hand, needing to bat out the large majority of the day if they are to avoid defeat.
Stephen Cook had finished unbeaten on 147 at the end of the second day, but he retired not out on that score after his wife went into labour overnight and gave birth to a baby girl.
McKenzie had been 18 not out overnight, and although he lost two partners early on Saturday he found enough support from Thami Tsolekile (17) and Dwaine Pretorius (22) to move the innings along.
McKenzie was eventually caught off the bowling of Mthokozisi Shezi (2 for 52), but Deeb took up the baton and ensured that the tail wagged - despite the best efforts of George Linde (4 for 152).
The innings was finally brought to a close when Deeb was trapped lbw by Dane Paterson (3 for 81), leaving the Cobras with a little more than an hour to bat.
Levi set off at his usual canter, scoring 15 from 14 deliveries, before he was bowled by Jamison in the fourth over of the Cobras innings.
Omphile Ramela (14) and Keegan Petersen (23) saw the Cobras safely to the close thereafter, and will need to bat on through the morning to give their side the best possible chance of denying the Lions the victory.