The Chevrolet Knights staged a comeback after tea on the first day of their Sunfoil Series match against the bizhub Highveld Lions at the De Beers Diamond Oval on Thursday, but wickets with the second new ball kept the visitors in with a sniff.
At stumps it was honours even though, with the Chevrolet Knights having posted 326 for the loss of nine wickets. Good innings from Rilee Rossouw and Werner Coetsee gave the innings substance, while the bizhub Highveld Lions were again reliant on the new ball attack of Cliffe Deacon and Chris Morris.
The Chevrolet Knights won the toss, and captain Johan van der Wath chose to bat first. It was an unusual start, as all of the first seven overs were maidens. Young Gihahn Cloete grew in confidence, going to his fifty before lunch as the Chevrolet Knights reached 80 without loss. Rudi Second was in more circumspect mode, needing 79 balls to get into double figures.
The situation changed dramatically after the lunch break as both batsmen were dismissed without adding to their scores. Ryan Bailey then went for a single, and Rossouw almost edged to the keeper when still on two. Rossouw and Obus Pienaar steadied the ship with a partnership of 73 before Pienaar was caught in the slips for a breezy 42. Patrick Botha also departed before tea, looking to exploit some loose deliveries from Imran Tahir.
Resuming at 181 for five, Coetsee started the final session on a positive note with two boundaries. He and Rossouw rattled along nicely, putting on 78 in just 17 overs. Rossouw reached his half-century off 98 balls and was looking good for a century. He was not shy to experiment, producing an albeit mistimed switch hit, but had a lapse against Brett Pelser's gentle medium-pacers.
A bottom edge went to the boundary, but his reprieve was short-lived as Thami Tsolekile took a great reflex catch standing up to the wicket off the next ball. He scored 80 off 133 balls.
Coetsee sailed along majestically, going to his fifty off 71 balls with his tenth boundary, but the dismissal opened up an end as the new ball was due.
Morris and Deacon made good use of it. Deacon trapped Van der Wath in front in his first over, and Morris had Dillon du Preez, averaging 50 this season, playing all around a straight delivery. Coetsee was undone by a slower ball from Hardus Viljoen in what proved to be the last over of the day. His 78 came off 100 balls with 14 fours.
Deacon had the best figures on the day with three for 47 and Morris finished with two for 48. Viljoen's two wickets came at some cost, while Imran Tahir was also expensive at almost five to the over.
With both the bizhub Highveld Lions and the Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras earning maximum bowling bonus points, the former retain a slender three-point lead at the top of the log.
Bonus points to date: Chevrolet Knights 4.52, bizhub Highveld Lions 4