A sensational innings of 132 from Temba Bavuma helped the bizhub Highveld Lions set the Chevrolet Knights a daunting target of 369 for victory in their Sunfoil Series match at Senwes Park in Potchefstroom on Saturday. The Knights in reply reached a score of 13 without loss by stumps on day three, but it will require a strong rear-guard if the visitors are to deny the bizhub Highveld Lions victory on the final day tomorrow.
The Chevrolet Knights had earlier started the day on 272 for eight in their first-innings response to the bizhub Highveld Lions total of 348, and they added a further 21 runs before the loss of Ryan McLaren for 63 inspired a declaration from the visitors.
It meant the bizhub Highveld Lions started their second innings with a lead of 56, but the Chevrolet Knights struck early as first-innings hero Quinton de Kock fell to the bowling of Johan van der Wath, having amassed just a solitary single. His partner, Stephen Cook, was then joined by Bavuma, and the pair steadied things for the home side until Cook was dismissed with the score on 42 with just two balls remaining before the lunch interval.
After the break Bavuma and Neil McKenzie began to build on the 98-run lead they had enjoyed at lunch, and McKenzie, in particular, inspired an increase in the run rate as he found the fence at regular intervals. Bavuma began to feed off the aggression of his partner, and by the time McKenzie belted two fours in three balls off the 37th over from Malusi Siboto, the duo had put on 79 to guide their side to a score of 121.
However, the tall paceman had McKenzie castled for 43 with the very next delivery to give his team the much-needed breakthrough. The talented Bavuma brought up his half-century with a glorious stroke for four off the following over, but new batsman Zander Bruyn was dismissed shortly after for five as the bizhub Highveld Lions stuttered to 150 for four.
But Bavuma was proving to be the thorn in Ryan McLaren’s team’s side, and, in conjunction with a useful cameo from Thami Tsolekile, they kept the pressure firmly on the bowling side.
Tsolekile departed shortly after tea for 23, but Bavuma was the star of the piece and he brought up his sixth first-class century with a classic drive through the covers for four a few overs later. Brett Pelser made 15 before being caught at slip off Van der Wath, but it was the partnership that followed which really took the game away from the Chevrolet Knights.
Bavuma continued with his impressive strokeplay, but Imran Tahir marched to the crease to play with the sort of reckless abandon that fielding captains can only dread.
He smashed Van der Wath for three boundaries in the same over to get his innings going, and it laid down the marker for an astonishing performance that would see the helpless Chevrolet Knights attack carved to all parts of the ground. After already having struck a monstrous maximum, Tahir’s ninth boundary brought up his fifty off just 31 balls, and the invaluable partnership between the two men had seen the Lions past the 300 mark.
The stand was broken four overs later as Bavuma’s monumental knock of 132 came to an end when Werner Coetsee snared a catch off his own bowling, but with the score on 313, the 22 year-old had helped his team into a position of indomitable strength.
Coetsee struck again two balls later when he had Garnett Kruger caught at mid-on for a duck. The scalp was his fourth of the innings, but it merely marked the end of the bizhub Highveld Lions innings as Stephen Cook called in Tahir, who was undefeated on 58, with his team leading by 368.
Openers Michael Erlank and Rudi Second were then forced to survive a six-over tense session before stumps, but the bizhub Highveld Lions were unable to make any inroads as the two men guided their team to the close of play with the score on 13.
However, it was a day that belonged to the home side, and the visitors will in all likelihood be playing for survival when they start day four facing a mammoth 355-run deficit.
Total Bonus Points:
Lions – 8.96
Knights – 7.86
bizhub Highveld Lions: Stephen Cook (capt), Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock, Neil McKenzie, Zander de Bruyn, Thami Tsolekile (wk), Eddie Leie, Garnett Kruger, Imran Tahir, Pumelela Matshikwe, Brett Pelser.
Chevrolet Knights: Ryan McLaren (capt), Michael Erlank, Rilee Rossouw, Rudi Second (wk), Ryan Bailey, Obus Pienaar, Werner Coetsee, Quinton Friend, Johan van der Wath, Shadley van Schalkwyk, Malusi Siboto