The Wanderers pitch, sterilised by the sun and wind, began to play easier on Saturday and the Central Gauteng Lions capitalised by piling on the runs and then taking three quick North-West wickets on the second day of their CSA Four-Day Domestic Series match.
The Lions, led by Ryan Rickelton’s superbly compiled 159, amassed 408 in their first innings to stack up a 249-run first-innings lead.
In the 10 overs they then bowled to the North-West Dragons before stumps, they claimed three wickets for 50 runs, setting up the possibility of a three-day finish on Sunday.
Rickelton resumed on 33 not out on Saturday morning and was in dazzling touch as he collected 22 fours, his shot-selection and placement being immaculate.
Kagiso Rapulana (26) and Muhammed Mayet (34) shared the key partnerships with Rickelton, adding 80 for the third wicket and 86 for the fourth wicket respectively.
Malusi Siboto then ushered the Lions past 400 with his quickfire 52.
Left-arm spinner Senuran Muthusamy was the most effective North-West bowler with 4/61 in 24.1 overs.
Duanne Olivier, who took four wickets in the first innings, then removed both North-West openers before stumps to leave the Lions firmly in charge.
Up the road at SuperSport Park, Sibonelo Makhanya (64*) and Jordan Hermann (56*) ended the day strongly for the Northerns Titans with their unbroken fifth-wicket partnership of 123.
This stand rescued Northerns from 95/4, when they were still trailing by 29 runs, and they now lead the Eastern Province Warriors by 94.
This was debutant Hermann’s second half-century of the match and the U19 star is certainly an exciting talent.
Eastern Province made it to 258 all out in their first innings and this was largely due to opener Ed Moore’s determined 110, which spanned 188 deliveries.
Diego Rosier, who scored a dashing 85 on the first day, and Tiaan van Vuuren (20*) were the only other batsmen to reach double figures.
Paceman Corbin Bosch and off-spinner Simon Harmer each took three wickets.
At Newlands, Khaya Zondo’s magnificent unbeaten double-century meant there were many funerals for the Western Province bowling figures.
Zondo compiled a thoroughly dominant 203 not out and, with Jason Smith stroking a fine 101, the KZN Dolphins piled up 489/9 declared.
Western Province then struggled to 101/4 in reply, including the demise of key batsman David Bedingham, caught-and-bowled by spinner Bryce Parsons for 62.
In Bloemfontein, veteran Free State Knights captain Pite van Biljon played some adorable strokes as he scored 137 with 14 fours and three sixes to lead the home side to 320 all out.
He marshalled the tail particularly well because Free State were 185/7 at one stage.
Fast bowler Hardus Viljoen (25-6-62-4) led the attack for Boland, who were 2/0 at the close.