CAPE TOWN – On a Saturday when runs flowed all around the country in the Sunfoil Series, it was Proteas left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj who stole the show with the ball for the Dolphins in Port Elizabeth.
Three centuries were struck overall, with Dolphins veteran Vaughn van Jaarsveld striking a fluent 110 off 180 balls (17x4, 1x6) to propel the Dolphins to 388 all out.
With the Warriors enjoying a 59-run first innings lead, it left the home side a target of 286 for victory.
This soon proved to a mountainous task, with Maharaj ripping through the Warriors batting line-up.
Eddie Moore (24) was first to go after being caught at short-leg, which opened up the door for Maharaj to weave his magic.
Fellow left-armer Senuran Muthusamy chipped in with the wicket of fellow opener Matthew Breetzke, but after that, it was the Maharaj show.
Colin Ackerman struck a confident 63 off 90 balls, but he too fell to Maharaj, with the left-armer reducing the Warriors to 174/6.
He currently has figures of 5/52 in 22.4 overs, while the home team still require a further 114 runs for victory with just four wickets in hand.
This was in contrast to the action in Paarl, where the Highveld Lions piled on the runs in their clash against the Cape Cobras.
Undaunted by the Cobras’ mammoth 574/8 declared, the Lions responded with 465/4, courtesy of a record 287-run third-wicket partnership between Stephen Cook and Rassie van der Dussen.
The pair took advantage of a flat Boland Park pitch and the searing heat to crush the home team’s chances of a much-needed victory.
Cook and Van der Dussen’s stand surpassed the previous highest mark of 278 for the third wicket, established by Cook and Neil McKenzie against the Warriors in 2013/14.
Cook eventually fell for a marathon 194 (330 balls, 16x4), while Van der Dussen made a franchise best 163 (275 balls, 19x4).
Stephen Cook greeted by a rousing round of applause as he made his back to the change room after being ran out for a brilliant 194 runs 👏👏#LionsCharge ended day 3 on a 465/4 trailing the @CobrasCricket by 109 runs #SunfoilSeries pic.twitter.com/yDiwRoEp3U
They were the only two wickets to fall on the day, with Nicky van den Bergh (48*) and Wiaan Mulder (26*) ensuring there were no further mishaps with an unbroken 48-run stand.
Lizaad Williams was the sole wicket-taker for the Cobras on the day, with Cook’s innings ending due to a run-out.
In Bloemfontein, the contest between the Knights and Titans remains evenly poised heading into the final day.
The home team have moved to 120/2, with an overall lead of 138, courtesy of a half-century by captain Theunis de Bruyn (57 not out, 93 balls).
The skipper is at the crease with Keagan Petersen (27) as the pair look to build a partnership in the hope of setting the table-topping Titans a competitive total to chase.
The Knights would have hoped for a bigger lead heading into the second innings, but they were denied by Titans veteran batsman Henry Davids.
The 38-year-old hit 95 off 172 balls, but was denied his century by five runs when he ran out of partners.
Proteas seamer Duanne Olivier was the most successful bowler for the Knights with figures of 4/78.