Gihahn Cloete and Reeza Hendricks added some much-needed stability as the Knights began their second innings, but the hosts still have a mountain to climb on the final day of their Sunfoil Series fixture in Bloemfontein if they are to avoid defeat to the Highveld Lions. Cloete (33) and Hendricks (38) saw off the new ball threat from the in-form bizhub Highveld Lions attack and took the Knights to stumps on 76/0, but they will still go into day four trailing by 117 runs thanks to Neil McKenzie’s 52nd first-class ton. The veteran converted his overnight 72 into 108 on the third morning and enjoyed good support from Thami Tsolekile, which allowed the Lions to extend their first innings to 441 all out.
Tsolekile resumed on 14 and added a further 34 runs to his total as his partnership with McKenzie grew to 85, before he was bowled by Chevrolet Knights skipper Werner Coetsee. The off-spinner went on to claim three of the last four wickets to finish with figures of 5/78 – his eighth five-wicket haul in this format – ensuring that the Lions tail did not wag too strongly. He was backed up by Duanne Olivier, who ended McKenzie’s innings of nearly seven hours and went on to finish with 4/94 from 32 overs.
Facing a deficit of 193 after spending more than 150 overs in the field, the Knights had a major battle on their hands as they returned to the crease half an hour before tea. But Cloete and Hendricks batted diligently, were not distracted by a rain delay half an hour after the tea interval, and were then aided by an early finish when bad light brought the day to a close.