Glenton Stuurman pushed his case for a Test call-up following wickets with the new ball
There has been no word on whether or when the top-tier clash between the Titans and the Dolphins will be replayed, after the match was called off following a case of Covid-19 but the four other teams in action made some important gains on the respective log leaders.
In Pool A, the Warriors now lie 4.7 points behind the Titans – though the Warriors have played an extra game – after their 80 run win over the Cobras. In Pool B, both the Knights and the Lions have overtaken the Dolphins. The Knights beat the Lions by nine wickets and remain favourites to compete in the first-class final.
In Bloemfontein, the Knights were set up by Raynard van Tonder‘s 200 which, along with Ferisco Adams’ 96, saw them total 472 in their first innings. But the worth of that total became apparent when the Lions were bowled out for 262 thanks largely to Shaun von Berg’s 5 for 93. With little more than a day to play at the end of both first innings, the Knights opted to enforce the follow-on.
The Lions were 210 behind and the best they could hope for was to bat out the draw but their tail did not manage to hold out. They lost 5 for 44 in their second innings but managed to make the Knights bat again, to chase 18 runs for victory.
On the coast in Port Elizabeth, the Warriors came back from a first innings deficit of 31 runs to beat the Cobras in a low-scoring encounter. Rudi Second’s 55 held the Warriors first innings together but a total of 194 did not look too competitive to start with. However, when the Cobras crashed to 32 for 3, it seemed that the Warriors had something to work with. Kyle Verreynne‘s 97 and George Linde‘s 49 pushed the Cobras into the lead but Second led the way in the Warriors second innings, with 117, to set the Cobras a target of 265.
Janneman Malan‘s 65 kept the Cobras in the hunt but the Warriors attack, led by Glenton Stuurman and bolstered by Jon-Jon Smuts kept nipping at the Cobras heels and bowled them for 184 to give the Warriors their second victory of the competition. The Cobras remain the only winless team in this tournament.
On the National Radar
Selection convener Victor Mpitsang would have been pleased with the bulk of the returns from those members of the national squad who were in action in this round.
After Aiden Markram‘s 75 and Dean Elgar‘s 52 in the match was called off, Rassie van der Dussen’s 107, albeit in a losing cause for the Lions, bodes well for the Test top-order while Verreynne’s 97 have pushed the case for him to included in a lower-middle order spot. Verreynne could also relieve Quinton de Kock of the wicketkeeping gloves if needed.
In the bowling department, Glenton Stuurman made a strong case for a Test debut after striking with the new ball in both innings against the Cobras. Allrounder Wiaan Mulder bowled 18 overs for the Lions, and took 2 for 68, which suggests he is ready for a decent workload while the national squad’s newest recruit, Migael Pretorius, took 2 for 53 and1 for 49 for the Knights. Beuran Hendricks’ 1 for 77 may not look as eye-catching, especially as he went for 3.67 runs an over, which sets up an interesting contest between him and Stuurman for the third seamer’s spot. South Africa may choose to go all pace against Sri Lanka, which could see both Hendricks and Stuurman play but left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj reminded them what he could do with 3 for 48 at SuperSport Park.
De Kock, Faf du Plessis, Temba Bavuma and Anrich Nortje did not play in this round.
Just days after the Test squad to play Sri Lanka was announced, Raynard van Tonder’s double-hundred must have put him front and centre of selection convener Mpitsang’s mind. Van Tonder leads the run-scorer’s list and averages 67.11 and although South Africa have a reserve batsman in Keegan Petersen in their group, expect to see van Tonder in amongst the national squad soon.
Von Berg leapt to the top of the bowling charts with nine wickets in this round and now lies ahead of Warriors’ Marco Jansen, who took four wickets against the Cobras, and Pretorius. Other spinners who performed well were Linde (4 for 52 in the first innings against the Warriors) and Smuts (3 for 40 and 3 for 47 against the Cobras).
Second’s century saw him rise to third on the overall run-scorers’ list while Dominic Hendricks’ 98 puts him in fourth place.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent