Temba shines on difficult pitch

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By late morning, three of the South African team’s top order for the first Test against England was out for a grand total of 25 runs.

In Centurion, Dean Elgar lasted just five minutes, in Cape Town Stiaan van Zyl scored 15 after spending 26 minutes at the crease and the Proteas Test captain, Hashim Amla made just 10, occupying the centre for 50 minutes.

Needing to rebuild confidence after their difficulties in India, those were not ideal returns for some key players ahead of the Kingsmead Test that starts on Boxing Day.

The selectors’ mood would have pepped up somewhat as the afternoon unfolded. First JP Duminy hung around for 98 minutes for the Cobras, scoring 35 and then Temba Bavuma grew increasingly comfortable as he attempted to dig the Lions out of a deep hole here. Duminy’s knock was probably insufficient for him to feel good about himself at this stage, but it was a start and in general the Cobras struggled against the Knights being dismissed for 146.

Bavuma’s innings then was the highlight as far as the national side is concerned. The circumstances in which his 20th first class half-century was scored would have been even more pleasing for those with concerns about the Proteas.

The Lions chose to bat on a pitch that had plenty of assistance on offer for the seamers - as is the norm here. The home team would probably have hoped it would settle down in the afternoon, but as the clouds rolled in the Dolphins seam bowlers continued to provide problems.

Around the players there was plenty of activity too as the Bullring - continues to receive a make-over. The foundations for the new grass embankment in front of the Taverners Stand were smoothed out, the snazzy new executive suite adjacent to the dressing-room was being drilled and grinded while atop the Centenary Stand a group of gentlemen were involved in a precarious re-painting of the roof.

At ground level it was the Dolphins bowlers who were on top. Rassie van der Dussen edged Matthew Pillans to Daryn Smit and then the Lions skipper Dominic Hendricks was brilliantly caught down leg-side by a flying Smit for 16 off Calvin Savage.

Devon Conway continued his infuriating habit of getting good 30s and getting out - something he picked up in the RamSlam - by chipping Aya Myoli to Cody Chetty at cover following which Alviro Petersen edged to Smit off the impressive Savage.

All that increased the pressure on Bavuma. As far as preparation for the Test series was concerned this was probably an ideal workout for the diminutive right-hander.

There was some very good bowling from Dolphins, particularly Savage who had locked onto a probing line and length that presented the batsmen with lots of problems.

Bavuma maintained his composure however and having weathered the early troubles looked largely at ease as he sought to drag the Lions out of trouble. His half-century contained some typically elegant drives while the pull for six off Savage suggested control allied to some aggression.

When the umpires called time owing to bad light, Bavuma was unbeaten on 52 and with him was Dwaine Pretorious on 21, the pair sharing a partnership of 42.

Savage with 3/49 from 20 overs was the best of the Dolphins bowlers.

Heino Kuhn hit the first century of the Sunfoil Series season to guide The Unlimited Titans from a troublesome position to one of dominance on the opening day of their fixture against the Warriors at SuperSport Park.

Basheeru-Deen Walters picked up three wickets in his opening spell to reduce the Titans to 30/3, but Kuhn’s 141 (226 balls, 22x4s) ensured that the Titans had regained control by the end of the day as they closed on 251/4.

It was anything but a one-man show, however, with Farhaan Behardien scoring an unbeaten 78 and passing 5000 first-class runs in the process.

Shadley van Schwalkwyk recorded his second five-wicket haul in first-class cricket as the VKB Knights ran through a high-profile Cobras batting line-up on the first day of their Sunfoil Series clash at PPC Newlands.

Van Schalkwyk’s 5/45 represented his best figures in a seven-year first-class career, and included the big wickets of Amla and Duminy. With Dillon du Preez and Werner Coetsee taking two wickets apiece, the Cobras were bowled out cheaply having won the toss and elected to bat, to which the Knights responded with 59/1.– The Star

Original source: Temba shines on difficult pitch

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