Cape Town - Werner Coetsee scored his sixth first-class century and Duanne Olivier took four key wickets as the Knights not only upset a Proteas-packed Cape Cobras outfit at Newlands, but did so by an innings and 102 runs.
The Cobras had no fewer than four members of the Proteas Test squad in their side but were dominated throughout the three days that the game lasted, with the Knights extending their score to 491 for nine declared on the third day before bowling the hosts out for 243.
While Coetsee’s 103 was responsible for turning an imposing Knights total into a powerful statement, Olivier picked up the wickets of Andrew Puttick, Hashim Amla and Stiaan van Zyl to set the visitors on their way to victory.
The Knights lost Tumelo Bodibe for 66 shortly after resuming on their overnight total of 346 for five, but that could not prevent them from adding quick runs on the third morning.
Coetsee was more aggressive than he had been in reaching an overnight score of 45, with his second fifty coming in just 66 balls at the same time that Dillon du Preez hit 51 off just 56 balls.
That allowed the pair to add 86 for the eighth wicket in just 18 overs, further demoralising an increasingly fatigued Cobras side, whose only causes for optimism were Dane Piedt’s four-wicket haul and Tshepo Moreki’s 3 for 75 on his tournament debut for his new side.
With the wind having switched around to bring in overcast conditions, the Cobras faced an increase in swing and seam movement once the Knights had finally declared, and it took Olivier just two balls to strike.
He had Puttick caught by wicketkeeper Rudi Second, and then after Amla (23) and Van Zyl (21) had counterattacked with some fluid strokes, he had both men caught in the slips and gully in successive overs.
The Cobras maintained their attacking outlook, with JP Duminy (27) and Keegan Petersen (54) putting on 49 in 12 overs before the former was trapped lbw by Coetsee, and Petersen adding another 48 in nine overs with Lesiba Ngoepe.
A double breakthrough thereafter put the game’s outcome beyond doubt, with Shadley van Schalkwyk having Petersen caught and then Olivier getting Ngoepe caught and bowled.
That left the Cobras 148 for six shortly after tea, begging the question of whether they would take the match into a fourth day.
They came mighty close thanks to some stubborn knocks from Piedt, Beuran Hendricks and Moreki, as well as a maiden first-class fifty for Mthokozisi Shezi.
The Knights took the extra half-hour when the scheduled close came around with the Cobras eight down, and they duly finished the job despite Shezi’s unbeaten 50.
Olivier finished with figures of 4 for 88 while Michael Erlank took 3 for 32, as the Knights got the crucial early win that eluded them in the other two franchise competitions.