Andrea Agathagelou made a determined 80 but the Multiply Titans still finished the second day of their Sunfoil Series match in Bloemfontein five wickets down and more than 150 runs behind the VKB Knights on Friday.
Agathagelou batted for more than four hours for his 80, but he needed more support as the Titans closed on 210 for five.
That was in reply to the Knights’ first innings of 363 all out, the home side resuming on 304 for seven and adding 59 more runs in just 12 more overs thanks largely to Marchant de Lange belting 47 off just 59 deliveries.
The hero of the innings though was opener Grant Mokoena, who became the first batsman to carry his bat in the Sunfoil Series since Imraan Khan for the Dolphins in 2011/12, scoring a tremendously determined 154 not out in more than seven hours at the crease.
Given the modern-day tendency for batsmen to try and dominate and play their strokes, it was a noteworthy effort in terms of great concentration and shot-selection by the 30-year-old, who joined the Knights this year from the Titans.
Left-armer Rowan Richards used his pace and fire to take four for 64 in 21 overs, while Shaun von Berg’s more subtle leg-breaks claimed three for 94 in 31 overs.
A clever piece of off-spin bowling by Werner Coetsee accounted for Titans skipper Dean Elgar, bowled for 17, in the 12th over of their reply, but Tony de Zorzi and Agathagelou moved smartly along to 75 for one before Duanne Olivier, the Knights’ greatest weapon on Friday, struck.
De Zorzi had faced 73 balls and hit four fours in his 33 when he was bowled by Olivier, but Agathagelou and Heino Kuhn (21) then added a further 60 runs for the third wicket.Kuhn also fell to Olivier, but Agathagelou and Rivaldo Moonsamy (39) then added 73 for the fourth wicket and the Titans were looking good.
But Shadley van Schalkwyk, who bowled a miserly 10 overs for just seven runs, then managed to sneak a delivery through Agathagelou’s defences and Olivier completed a top-class day’s work, ending with a remarkable three for 37 in 20 overs, when he bowled Moonsamy without a run being added to the total.
Henry Davids (2*) and Von Berg (0*) then had to survive a handful of overs before stumps.
Mbulelo Budaza leaked 70 runs in his 12 overs, but the rest of the Knights bowling was tight and the Titans lower-order will need to be on their toes on the third morning if the visitors are not to be on the back foot with a big first-innings deficit.
The Knights will be relying on the second new ball, which is just nine deliveries away, to make further inroads.