Knights go down fighting

Marchant de Lange (File)
Marchant de Lange (File)
Pretoria - The Knights effectively bowed out of the race for the Sunfoil Series trophy in style, falling to a dramatic 32-run defeat on an incredible final day of their clash with the Titans at SuperSport Park.

Few would have given the Knights any hope at all of scoring the 403 runs they required on day four to attain a target of 435, yet at 298 for one it looked very much as though they would pull off one of the finest chases in South Africa’s four-day history.

Instead David Wiese and Marchant de Lange took seven wickets between them as the Knights lost their last nine wickets for 104 runs in 25 overs to be bowled out for 402.

The decision to chase the runs rather than bat out the draw would have been made with the position of the Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras in mind.

With the Cobras pulling off a win over the Chevrolet Warriors, the Knights knew that they needed to pull off an outrageous win if they were going to keep pace with the Cobras.

They began the final day on 32 without loss and, after losing Reeza Hendricks for 46 with the total on 86, saw Gihahn Cloete and Rilee Rossouw score centuries in a 209-run stand for the second wicket.

While Cloete’s 129 came at a fairly normal rate, Rossouw’s 127 was scored at better than a run a ball to keep the Knights’ run rate on track.

The partnership came in just 42 overs as the Titans bowlers struggled to find a reply, with the runs flowing at five per over.

The crucial breakthrough was achieved by Juan de Villiers, who continued his excellent match as he claimed the key wicket of Rossouw and then bowled Cloete soon afterwards.

Wiese and De Lange took it from there, as the new batsmen found it much harder coming in against the second new ball.

At 359 for nine the game appeared to be up, but the Knights refused to go down without another fight and so Malusi Siboto hit 26 not out and Corne Dry scored 19 as they put on 43 for the final wicket before Wiese ended a dramatic day by having Dry caught behind.

The Knights now trail the Cobras by more than 19 points, making it all but impossible for them to overhaul the log leaders in the final round of the season, which gets underway on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the Titans' second win of the competition put them in touching distance to the fourth- and fifth-place teams above them.
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