DURBAN – Dolphins skipper Khaya Zondo dug in and defied the rampant Titans on the final day of their Sunfoil Series clash at Centurion on Friday, which ended in a draw.
The home side had set the Dolphins an unlikely target of 430, or bat out the better part of four sessions to save the match.
At 27/3 overnight, both those matters looked to be a tall order, with the marauding Morné Morkel and the miserly Malusi Siboto in operation.
Titans skipper Aiden Markram had begun his day as he had the first three, with a bout of good news. The national selectors confirmed that the 22-year old prodigy will open the batting for South Africa against Bangladesh next week.
Naturally, then, there would have been an air of optimism in Pretoria. But, no one had reckoned with Zondo, himself with an eye on national honours.
The doughty middle-order man found allies in the consistent, if not converting, Vaughn van Jaarsveld, who chalked up a measured 68.
It was a second half-century in the match for the leftie before he trod on his stumps, off the bowling of Rowan Richards.
The Titans would have felt that the door was ajar when they broke that alliance.
But, Zondo and his housemate Andile Phehlukwayo (62) combined for 119 runs in nearly three hours, to snuff out the home side.
It was a different knock from Phehlukwayo, one that showed that he can adapt his bullocking game to the demands of red-ball cricket. Just as well, as he is also earmarked for a Test bow against the Tigers in Potchefstroom.
The Durban franchise will leave Pretoria heartened by the fight they showed to save a match that they were never in charge of.
Zondo ended the day undefeated on 102 off 210 balls, in an innings that was the epitome of a captain’s knock.
He joined Markram and Theunis de Bruyn in leading from the front with big runs for their sides, in an intriguing opening round of four-day fixtures.
It bodes well for the rest of the season, and the Dolphins will look forward to hosting the Knights in Durban next week.
Titans 451/7 declared and 295/4 declared
Dolphins 317 all out and 311/7 (Khaya Zondo 102 not out, Vaughn van Jaarsveld 68, Andile Phehlukwayo 62; Morné Morkel 3/44)