The clear skies were a welcome change, after rain had wreaked havoc for much of the Ram Slam T20 campaign. The Dolphins won the toss and batted with ease up front, as the experience of Vaughn van Jaarsveld and Morne van Wyk added 46 for the opening wicket.
It was a surprise when the first dismissal came, as the latter tried to sweep George Linde’s opening delivery too hard, and missed. Van Wyk didn’t even look at the umpire, knowing that he had been struck plumb in front.
Van Jaarsveld was joined by Senuran Muthusamy, who was not part of the T20 format plans, and the left-hander looked to be in decent enough touch as he tucked JP Duminy away for four. But he then had a rush of blood to the head, advancing down the wicket and yorking himself to disappear for just 12.
Van Jaarsveld needed a partner, and he found just that in the sprightly Dane Vilas. The former Proteas keeper looks a better signing with every performance, as busy as he is at the wicket. He runs with purpose, scores with freedom and, by all accounts, has been a shot of Red Bull in the dressing-room.
Van Jaarsveld was in the touch with which he started the domestic campaign, piercing the inner ring with cuts and punches off the back foot. He was Zen-like until he cut one to point, and hesitated on the single. Vilas the hare was already committed, and Van Jaarsveld tortoised to the other side, run out by half a pitch.
In response to that, Vilas atoned by going through the gears. He blazed his way to 91 off just 68 balls, a feature of his scoring being his electric running between the sticks. He and skipper Khaya Zondo (31) added 96 off 71 balls, before Vilas skied Ferisco Adams, to miss out on a deserved ton.
The Dolphins stuttered towards 300, and had a pair of Prenelan Subrayen sixes in the final over to thank for breaching the mark, eventually settling on 315/7.
In response, the Cobras were always going to lean heavily on their experience. JP Duminy (58 off 70 balls) had to be there at the end, and Richard Levi (68 off 78 balls) had to give them a fast start to have any hope.
They both sort of did that, but never quite followed through. Levi looked as if he was digging in for the long haul, until he was undone by a diving Zondo at mid-wicket.
That was the crucial breakthrough, which left Duminy high and dry, with a very light middle-order to follow. Jason Smith stroked his way to an entertaining 56 off 50 balls, as he kept the visitors interested until the latter stages.
Despite his cameo, the Cobras always looked a batsman light, and they suffered for it in the end. The Dolphins used seven bowlers, with Mthokozisi Shezi mopping up the tail to earn figures of 4/ 67.
Ultimately the home side prevailed with four balls left in the match.