The bizhub Highveld Lions face a difficult but not impossible task on the final day of their Sunfoil Series match against the Chevrolet Knights at the Diamond Oval. When stumps were drawn on Saturday, they needed another 334 runs to win with all their second innings wickets still in the bank.
Half-centuries from Obus Pienaar and Johan van der Wath stretched the Chevrolet Knights' lead beyond the 350 mark, while Hardus Viljoen and Imran Tahir each took three wickets.
The Chevrolet Knights took their overnight score from 39 to 121 in the morning session. Ryan Bailey scored exactly half of the runs after the early dismissal of Rilee Rossouw. Gihahn Cloete batted patiently for 33 before being run out, while Bailey was in more adventurous mood.
The afternoon session continued in similar vein. The Chevrolet Knights added 82 for the loss of three further wickets. Pienaar kept the momentum going with some bold shots. Van der Wath was also in good form, and by the tea break the lead already stood at 332.
The bizhub Highveld Lions struck back soon after the resumption. Pienaar became Imran Tahir's first leg before victim for 58 off 107 balls. Van der Wath retaliated by hitting Brett Pelser for a four and a six in the following over. He found some support from Dillon du Preez and Shadley van Schalkwyk, enough to help him reach his fifty as well. He was last man out for 55, made off 98 balls with six fours and a six.
Imran Tahir finished with the best return of three for 42, all his wickets coming after tea. Viljoen ended with three for 93. Morris took two wickets and for once Ciffe Deacon had no reward for his efforts. Two of the wickets fell to run outs, one of them the result of some good work in the outfield from Thami Tsolekile, who again gave up the gloves to Dominic Hendricks.
The bizhub Highveld Lions were left with a target of 387 in a minimum of 115 overs. Openers Stephen Cook and Hendricks got off to a brisk off, the latter playing a risky shot or two in the process. They tightened up a bit as the shadows lengthened, but have kept their wickets intact for what could be an epic chase on the final day.