Four-Day Franchise Series final round permutations: Titans, Dolphins in shootout while Titans are relatively safe

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Jacques Snyman of VKB Knights after reaching his 100 during day 1 of the CSA 4-Day Franchise Series between VKB Knights and Warriors at Mangaung Oval on November 02, 2020 in Bloemfontein, South Africa. (Photo by Frikkie Kapp/Gallo Images),
Jacques Snyman of VKB Knights after reaching his 100 during day 1 of the CSA 4-Day Franchise Series between VKB Knights and Warriors at Mangaung Oval on November 02, 2020 in Bloemfontein, South Africa. (Photo by Frikkie Kapp/Gallo Images),
  • The Four-Day Franchise series pool stages come to an exciting conclusion this week ahead of the five-day final on 25 March.
  • The final, in what will be the last edition of the six-team franchise first-class competition, will be the first to be held since the 2005/06 draw between the Titans and the Dolphins in Durban.
  • The 2004/05 and 2005/06 finals that involved the Dolphins ended in high-scoring draws, leading to the final being scrapped.

The return of the Four-Day Franchise series final after a 15-year hiatus has not only made for some interesting and exciting cricket, but will also gift cricket lovers a mouth-watering conclusion to the pool stages. 

The fact that the final spots have yet to be cemented in both pools means the final round starting on Tuesday has a lot at stake. It is, after all, the final edition of the Four-Day Franchise series.

The three teams with everything to gain and lose, the Knights, Dolphins and Titans, must negotiate tricky away fixtures.

The top two teams from both pools will contest the final from 25-29 March, with the team with the most log points hosting the final.

The Knights are in Cape Town where they'll be up against the win-less Cape Cobras. The Dolphins travel to Gqeberha for a date with Warriors while the Titans scoot down the N1 to face the out-of-contention defending champions the Lions in Johannesburg.

The Knights, who last won the tournament in the 2007/08 season, lead Pool A with 102.08 points from six matches.

The Dolphins, who featured in the 2005/06 final against the Titans where their coach Imraan Khan made 10 and 71, are on 100.92 points.

A win, which is worth 16 points along with the accrued bonus points, will allow the Knights to host their first final since the 2004/05 encounter against the Dolphins in Bloemfontein where Hashim Amla scored 249.

To get to the final, the Dolphins will need the Cape Cobras to win their first franchise game in more than two years and do so in a manner that doesn't allow the Knights to gain significant first innings batting or bowling bonus points.

The Titans, who lead Pool B with 86.84 points, just need the outright win against the Lions to secure their spot, but with Warriors (72.68) needing a healthy win, a draw for Mandla Mashimbyi's side will just about be enough.

They'll have to travel for the final as they can only get to 102.84 points without the bonus point provisions.

Those are accrued in the first 100 overs of each first innings where one point is gained when a team gets to 150, from where 0.02 of a point is gained for each run after that.

The bowling team can get a maximum of four through collecting the third, fifth, seventh and ninth wickets.

In the event of a draw, a result both teams would like to avoid even though it favours the Knights, the teams get six points along with the accrued bonus points.

In the event of a double innings tie, the teams get eight points plus the bonuses. If there is no match, the teams get five points each.

In the event a match is cancelled because of an unfit pitch or outfield, the visiting team stands to gain a maximum of 24 points.

The Knights will also be banking on the Cape Town weather to be fair.

The unseasonal elements in Cape Town condemned the Cobras/Warriors game to a draw last week despite Kyle Verreynne's batting heroics, while the sunny Highveld weather allowed the Titans/Knights and Lions/Dolphins matches to be played to their different conclusions.

It is Gqeberha's unpredictable weather that could hold the Dolphins hostage as rain is predicted for three out of the four match-days. However, St George's Park has been positive from a results perspective with both games at the ground reaching a conclusion.

Four-Day Franchise Series log

Pool A

Knights - Played: Six; Won: Three; Lost: Two; Tie: None; Drew: One; No Result: None; Points: 102.08

Dolphins - Played: Six; Won: Three; Lost: One; Tie: None; Drew: Two; No Result: None; Points: 100.92

Lions - Played: Six; Won: Two; Lost: Three; Tie: None; Drew: One; No Result: None; Points: 72.1

Pool B

Titans - Played: Six; Won: Two; Lost: One; Tie: None; Drew: Three; No Result: None; Points: 86.84

Warriors - Played: Six; Won: Two; Lost: Three; Tie: None; Drew: One; No Result: None; Points: 72.68

Cape Cobras - Played: Six; Won: None; Lost: Two; Tie: None; Drew: Four; No Result: None; Points: 62.36

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