Dolphins to host Titans in 4-Day Series final after impressive win over Warriors
JOHANNESBURG – The Dolphins will host the Titans in the final of the Four-Day series starting next Thursday, following a convincing seven wicket victory against the Warriors in Gqeberha.
Once again Keshav Maharaj stepped to the fore claiming six second innings wickets, as the KwaZulu Natal franchise, overhauled the Knights in the final round of league action to finish atop Pool A, and because they gained more log points than the Titans, they earned the right to host next week’s final, which will be played over five days.
After bowling the Warriors out for 124 on the first day, the Dolphins built a 244-run first innings lead thanks to a hard fought 111 from Khaya Zondo, which came after his side had slumped to 108/4 at the start of their first innings. Maharaj weighed in with another crucial half-century. His first innings 66, while not as explosive as his 89 off 62 balls at the Wanderers last week, was nevertheless invaluable in helping to build that substantial first innings lead.
The Warriors fought back well in their second innings led by Ed Moore’s 155. But having got to 245/1, and in a position from which they could have set up a tricky fourth innings chase, the Warriors were then spun out, by the magnificent Maharaj, who picked up 6/93, as the Warriors were bowled out for 345.
The Dolphins knocked off the required 112 runs for the loss of three wickets giving them 25.16 points, enough to see them surge to the top of Pool A. In fact, the win ultimately didn’t matter, because the Knights, who came into the final round of fixtures with a narrow lead in Pool A were blown away by the Cape Cobras at Newlands.
The Cobras’ innings and 215-run victory, snapped a 15 match winless streak for Western Cape franchise, and sees one of the most successful teams during the franchise era, sign off on a high note, after what have been two very difficult seasons.
Pieter Malan’s career-best 264, was the back bone of a mammoth first innings total of 523/8decl. by the Cobras, that also included another hundred for Kyle Verreynne. It gave the Cape side a lead of 345 runs after they’d bowled the Knights out for 181 in their first innings.
George Linde then produced his own career-best performance, claiming 7/29, as the Knights capitulated in their second innings, and were bowled out for 127.
It brought a disappointing end to what had otherwise been a promising campaign for the central franchise, that saw the likes of Migael Pretorius and Raynard van Tonder step to the fore.
In the last match of the pool, at the Wanderers between the Titans and Lions, the two Protea-laden sides produced some high quality moments before it ended in a draw on Friday afternoon.
Aiden Markram backed up his fifth century of the competition in the first innings, with another elegant half century in the second after the Titans had been asked to chase 313 on the final day,p ultimately finishing on 149/2 when the players shook hands.
Markram fell 55 runs short of notching up 1000 runs for the season, and sadly for the Titans won’t be able to push for that landmark, as he’ll enter the bio bubble for the One-Day series against Pakistan, and will thus miss the final in Durban.
Outstanding Batsman: There were five hundreds in the last round of pool fixtures, including Malan’s double in Cape Town, and Markram’s fifth of the campaign at the Wanderers, but given the time at which it came, and what was at stake for his side Zondo’s 111 stands apart. Zondo batted for nearly four hours, faced 156 balls, hitting 15 fours and three sixes.
Outstanding Bowler: Despite missing two matches, Keshav Maharaj is the competition’s leading wicket-taker with 34 at an average of 20.47, having taken four ‘five-fors’ and a ‘ten-for.’ Again his intervention on Thursday afternoon was vital for the Dolphins, as he bamboozled the Warriors’ middle and lower order to set up a comfortable fourth innings target.