Paarl - The Amla brothers produced a momentous double-century partnership for the Dolphins on the opening day of their SuperSport Series match against the Cape Cobras in Paarl on Thursday as the visitors amassed 308 for three.
The home bowlers showed as much enthusiasm as a snake sunning itself on a rock as the batsmen scored freely against some wayward bowling.
Lance Klusener won the toss and chose to bat first on a flat wicket. Although there was some grass, the bowlers received no assistance. Monde Zondeki in particular was guilty of bowling too much down the leg side as the openers put on 76 for the first wicket.
Vernon Philander broke through half an hour before lunch, but it was a lucky wicket as Doug Watson mistimed a pull and played on. Con de Lange came on for the customary over of spin before lunch, and was immediately rewarded as he induced Imraan Khan to edge to slip.
As often happens at Paarl, no wickets fell between lunch and tea. Hashim had one chance as Zondeki failed to hold a difficult catch off his own bowling with his score on 78, but otherwise the batsmen looked completely untroubled.
Philander produced some aggression but also bowled too many loose deliveries. Paul Adams had a woeful start, conceding fifteen runs off the first seven balls he bowled.
Before long Thami Tsolekile resorted to defencive tactics, having both his left-arm spinners bowling over the wicket to the right-handers. Adams seemed to find more control in the process, even though the negative strategy produced some pretty dull cricket.
After tea, the brothers went on to a partnership of 203 in just under four hours, off 378 balls. Ahmed looked to play more freely as the second new ball loomed, and fell to a loose shot just short of his century as he stepped back to cut Adams off his stumps but played over the ball.
He faced 192 balls and hit 15 fours. He was at the crease for 65 overs.
Dale Benkenstein hit some splendid shots before the close, which for once came on time. In fact, despite various delaying tactics, the Cobras found themselves bowling one over more than the minimum of 96 for the day.
The star of the day was Hashim Amla. He looked supremely confident in scoring his ninth First Class hundred, reaching the landmark off 165 balls. By the close he had batted for a shade under five hours, facing 233 balls and hitting 13 sparkling boundaries.
The Dolphins will be looking to him to take them to the massive first innings score which the pitch seems to have in store for them. - Sapa