The Sunfoil Series match between the bizhub Highveld Lions and the Chevrolet Knights at Senwes Park in Potchefstroom finished in a draw as both captains agreed to an early finish at tea on day four. At that stage the visitors had reached 187 for three in pursuit of the target of 369.
The bizhub Highveld Lions had enjoyed a 55-run lead after the first innings, and a superb century from Temba Bavuma had allowed the hosts to declare late on day three with a lead of 368.
Michael Erlank and opening partner Rudi Second were then forced to endure a six-over tense session on Saturday evening, but the pair reached stumps safely on 13 without loss, and resumed the final day on scores of eight and four not out respectively.
Both men settled quickly and were beginning to look comfortable before Pumelela Matshikwe (10-4-22-1) claimed a much needed breakthrough in the 12th over as he had Second caught behind for 12 with the total on 29.
This brought first-innings star Rilee Rossouw to the wicket, and the talented young left-hander looked to be picking up from where he left off as he dispatched Garnett Kruger (12-2-53-0) for consecutive boundaries early on in his knock. He and Erlank then saw the Knights past the fifty mark, and they were in sight of the lunch interval before an inspired change of bowling from the bizhub Highveld Lions’ skipper, Stephen Cook, saw Brett Pelser (9-2-28-2) replace Zander de Bruyn and remove Rossouw for 24 with the score on 65.
It got worse for the Chevrolet Knights, though, as Pelser then had new man Ryan Bailey caught behind with his very next delivery to leave the visitors three down and in danger of a middle-order collapse against a fired-up home outfit.
The bizhub Highveld Lions were unable to make further inroads in the final nine overs before lunch, though, as Erlank was joined by Obus Pienaar, who used a mixture of aggression and circumspection to keep the bowlers at bay before the interval. The Chevrolet Knights reached 97 for three by the time they departed the field. With 66 overs still remaining in the day’s play the bizhub Highveld Lions still had every reason to believe they could force a result.
The second session was where these hopes were quashed, however, as Erlank and Pienaar were simply superb in their efforts to deny the bizhub Highveld Lions a victory. Erlank remained resolute, and brought up his fourth first-class half-century off 137 balls in the 41st over with a glorious stroke for four off Kruger.
Pienaar, on the other hand, had been the more positive of the two and had been intent on rotating the strike while also finding the fence with regularity. He brought up a fifty of his own in the 55th over off just 81 deliveries, and any belief in the fielding side of a hard-fought victory had been drained.
The duo continued to prove unflappable, and even upped the ante to an extent as they saw off the following 11 overs with ease to reach tea on 187 for three – Erlank having amassed 73 not out off 204 balls and Pienaar undefeated on 70 from 121 balls.
With the visitors still requiring an unrealisitic 182 for victory and the bizhub Highveld Lions needing seven more scalps, both captains shook hands before the start of the final session, and the stalemate sees neither team able to snare the 10 points on offer for an outright win.
The Chevrolet Knights, having accumulated 7.86 points in the first-innings batting and bowling stakes, have regained third place on the log on 51.92 points. The bizhub Highveld Lions, meanwhile, remain entrenched in fifth despite claiming 8.96 in bonus points, and find themselves languishing nearly 43 points behind the table-topping Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras.
bizhub Highveld Lions: Stephen Cook (capt), Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock, Neil McKenzie, Zander de Bruyn, Thami Tsolekile (wk), Eddie Leie, Garnett Kruger, Imran Tahir, Pumelela Matshikwe, Brett Pelser
Chevrolet Knights: Ryan McLaren (capt), Michael Erlank, Rilee Rossouw, Rudi Second (wk), Ryan Bailey, Obus Pienaar, Werner Coetsee, Quinton Friend, Johan van der Wath, Shadley van Schalkwyk, Malusi Siboto