Magical Keshav Maharaj keeps Dolphins in hunt for four day title

Keshav Maharaj of the Dolphins bowls during their CSA 4-Day match against the Lions at Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg on Wednesday. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Keshav Maharaj of the Dolphins bowls during their CSA 4-Day match against the Lions at Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg on Wednesday. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Published Mar 10, 2021


JOHANNESBURG – Keshav Maharaj led the Dolphins to a crucial 86-run victory over the Lions at the Wanderers, that very much kept the KwaZulu Natal franchise’s chances of winning the Four-Day series alive, while knocking the Lions out of the contention in the tournament.

Maharaj produced a historic all-round performance at the Bullring, scoring 101 runs – 89 of those coming in a thrilling second innings effort off just 62 balls – while picking up 13 wickets in a match in which he bowled 66 overs.

The 31 year old left-arm spinner is only the second spinner to take a ‘ten-for’ at the Bullring. The only other occasion was in 1957, when Hugh Tayfield took 13/192, those wickets coming in 74 eight-ball overs.

The Dolphins thanks to Eathan Bosch’s maiden first class century scored 375 in their first innings. Ryan Rickelton almost single-handedly kept the Lions in touch with a sparkling innings of 194 - a performance that said a lot about his mental strength after he’d struggled during the T20 Challenge in Durban.

The Dolphins were reduced to 113/6 in their second innings, from where Maharaj’s explosive hitting, that included 11 fours and three sixes, gave them a path back into the match. The Lions resumed on 21/1 on Wednesday needing a further 228 to win, however they capitulated in the face of Maharaj’s wily spin, as he finished with 7/48, which along with his first innings ‘six-fer’ gave him match figures of 13/174.

Besides getting a modicum of revenge for the loss in the T20 final last week, the win also put the Dolphins firmly back in contention for a spot in the tournament’s final. They are just 1.86 points behind the Knights in Pool A, ahead of the final round of fixtures next week. The Dolphins will head to St George’s Park to face the Warriors.

The Knights meanwhile will face the Cape Cobras in Cape Town following their hard-fought draw against the Titans at SuperSport Park.

Although the Knights had taken a 151-run first innings lead thanks to an outstanding century by the veteran Farhaan Behardien, it was wiped out by a classy opening stand of 213 between Proteas duo Aiden Markram and Dean Elgar.

Markram completed his maiden first class double century, as the Titans, who sit comfortably atop Pool B, batted out for the draw on the final day. Markram, who’d been in the field since the Titans’ first innings ended on Monday afternoon, completed a marathon eight hour effort with the bat, and when the captains shook hands at tea on Wednesday he was not out on 204.

That innings put him atop the batting charts, with an aggregate of 781 runs, which include four centuries at an average of 97.62.

The Cobras, who’ve had a dreadful season so far, saw ‘Lady Luck’ desert them too as their clash with the Warriors at Newlands was washed out on the last day. The Cobras had complete control there having declared their first innings on 513/6 following a double hundred by Kyle Verreynne and a century from the red hot, George Linde.

They then reduced the Warriors to 137/7 with Tshepo Moreki taking three wickets. However half-centuries from Aya Gqamane and Marco Jansen, coupled with bad weather, saw that match curtailed, leaving the Cobras winless in 15 matches in this competition - a run that stretches back to the 2018/19 season.

ALSO READ: Rain ruins final day at Newlands as clash between Cobras and Warriors ends in a draw

Outstanding Batsman: A few candidates; including Markram, Rickelton, Linde and Berhardien. However, Verreynne continued his outstanding form with a career best 216 not out at Newlands. It’s got to a point, where he’s a legitimate candidate for a spot in the Proteas Test side’s middle order for his batting alone.

Outstanding Bowler: Keshav Maharaj is a spinner in South Africa, so naturally he is undervalued. Various Proteas teams have too easily taken the decision to drop from starting teams at the Wanderers. Following 13 wickets there this week, future teams will have second thoughts about doing so.


IOL Sport

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