Vincent Moore, the 19-year-old paceman playing just his second Sunfoil Series match, was the leader of the Titans yesterday as he bowled them back into the game against the Highveld Lions at the Wanderers.
Moore, a left-armer, claimed three for 21 in eight overs to reduce the Lions to 109 for four at stumps, in reply to the inadequate Titans first innings of 147 all out.
The Titans had won the toss and elected to bat first and it looked an apt decision in the first 40 minutes as openers Heino Kuhn and Francois le Clus added 33.
But the admirable Lions attack then found the right lengths on a pitch that provided consistent movement but not such consistent bounce, medium-pacer Brett Pelser having by far his most successful day in franchise cricket with the ball as he claimed four for 28 in 15 overs.
The lively pitch ensured the Lions’ reply would be anything but dull and their batsmen also found it tough to stay in for a long time. Dominic Hendricks (21), Temba Bavuma (25) and Devon Conway (27) all played some sparkling strokes before being dismissed.
By stumps the decision to bat first was once again looking a reasonable one, with the uneven bounce suggesting batting last will be a tough task.
Qaasim Adams, the Titans’ import from the Western Cape, showed the stoutest resistance of all the batsmen, occupying the crease for two-and-a-half hours and only playing at what he had to on his way to 59, his first half-century for his new franchise.
Lions captain Stephen Cook was caught behind off CJ de Villiers for a duck, sparring outside off stump, before Moore entered the fray with an impressive opening spell of two for 20 in six overs.
Keeping the ball in the channel around off stump, he bowled at a lively pace and removed Bavuma, who had looked comfortable until then, in his second over.
Moore jagged a delivery back into the little right-hander, cutting him in two and getting the inside edge for Mangaliso Mosehle to claim his second catch.
Hendricks is lethal when given any width, so Moore kept a tight line to him and the talented left-hander eventually shouldered arms to a straight one and was bowled.
Moore then returned for a couple of overs just before stumps and removed Conway, edging a loose slash just outside off stump.
Neil McKenzie is obviously a key man for the Lions now, having batted in typically unflustered fashion to reach 30 not out.
Thami Tsolekile, released from the national squad, is with him on one not out.
Moore has given the Titans a window of opportunity to escape from the poor position their incompetent batting had seemingly condemned them to being imprisoned in for the rest of this match.