The bizhub Highveld Lions have the upper hand going into the final day of their Sunfoil Series match against the Chevrolet Warriors at Axxess St. George’s. The home team is chasing a massive target of 390, and when bad light stopped play the hosts were still 271 short of victory with four wickets already lost. An excellent opening spell from Chris Morris ruined the top order although Arno Jacobs has given the Chevrolet Warriors some hope with an unbeaten 69.
The bizhub Highveld Lions resumed the day on 226 for four. Neil McKenzie soon went to his 48th First-Class century before both partners were dismissed within six balls of each other. Alviro Petersen was first to go for 119, and McKenzie followed in the next over for 104. Their partnership amounted to 222, which in the end accounted for more than half of the eventual total of 367.
The tail folded after lunch as the last five wickets fell for just 36, but by then the damage had been done with the lead already tending towards 350. Piet Botha, the Chevrolet Warriors coach, had already expressed concern over chasing anything more than 250. Andrew Birch and Wayne Parnell each took three wickets, Birch ending with a respectable match haul of seven for 99. Aya Gqamane and Simon Harmer each claimed two wickets.
The Chevrolet Warriors came out fighting, needing 390 in a minimum of 135 overs. Michael Price played his shots from the start, and aggressive strokeplay is second nature to Davy Jacobs. The scoreboard rattled along nicely, but there was enough time for Price to be dismissed before tea.
After the break, Davy Jacobs was first to go in a hectic passage of play, bowled through the gate by Morris. Namesake Arno could have departed early on in the very next over, but wicket-keeper Quinton de Kock was unable to hold on to a difficult chance. He made no mistake in the following over, as Ashwell Prince got an inside edge to a Morris delivery. Arno Jacobs then collared Imran Tahir, hitting the leg-spinner's fifth delivery over his head and into the sightscreen.
The pressure on the batsmen was relieved a little as Morris ended his first spell. Bowling either side of the tea break, he claimed three for 18 in nine overs, six of which were maidens. The respite allowed Jacobs and Colin Ingram to build a partnership of 38 before the latter edged Zander de Bruyn to third slip.
When umpires Dennis Smith and Phil Agent, visiting from New Zealand as part of an exchange programme, took the players off the field, Jacobs and Adrian McLaren had added another 19 runs to leave the Chevrolet Warriors on 119 for four wickets. Jacobs has played freely, scoring his 69 off just 75 balls, aided by eleven fours and a six.
There is still a lot to do for the Chevrolet Warriors. A victory will give them second place on the final standings, but the wise money would be on the bizhub Highveld Lions cleaning up the last six wickets tomorrow. The Chevrolet Warriors have now slipped to fourth place after the Sunfoil Dolphins' crushing win over the Nashua Titans. If they can pull this off, they would finish second above the bizhub Highveld Lions, while the tie, a rare result indeed, would put them third.