Sarel Erwee ton, Titans fightback light up four-day final after damp start
Day 3 of 5
HollywoodBet Dolphins 258/7
JOHANNESBURG - Dolphins opener Sarel Erwee’s second century of the season, followed by a stirring fightback by the Titans’ spinners, made for an enthralling day’s play in the final of the Four-day series at Kingsmead in Durban on Saturday.
If all of it can somehow lead to an intriguing conclusion, then the first two days of frustration, caused by the weather, will have been worth it. That remains to be seen and Sunday’s penultimate day’s play looms as crucial for both teams.
Having had all but 10 overs washed out on day one and then the whole of the second day’s abandoned, there was further frustration when the start on Saturday was delayed by a damp outfield, despite bright sunshine across Durban.
Eventually, after an hour was lost, Erwee and Keegan Petersen resumed, but both - understandably - struggled with runs difficult to come by in the first half an hour of play. Petersen fell in the seventh over of the morning, caught in the gully by Titans captain Grant Thomson off the bowling of the impressive Dayyan Galiem.
A 135-run partnership followed between Erwee and Dolphins skipper Marques Ackerman, which was impressive for the discipline the pair showed early against some accurate Titans bowling, before both grew more aggressive the more comfortable they got on the slow surface.
Ackerman deserves credit because he didn’t look comfortable at all against seam or spin, but gritted his teeth and when the opportunities arose later, played some delightful strokes, that included a pair of sixes off the bowling of left-arm spinner Kyle Simmonds over the midwicket boundary.
That’s STUMPS: Sarel Erwee (100) and Marques Ackerman (74) contributed for the hosts before Kyle Simmons (2-95) and Neil Brand (2-18) struck with the ball.— Momentum Multiply Titans (@Titans_Cricket) March 27, 2021
Day 3 comes to an end with Dolphins on 258-7. We resume tomorrow at 09:00. #4DaySeries | #DOLvTTN pic.twitter.com/h0OvFDzHID
Erwee, was the rock of the innings, seeing off the new ball in various phases of play on Thursday and then early on Saturday, while marshalling Ackerman through his difficult start.
The 31 year old has been a steady contributor for the Dolphins in recent seasons, and his performance on Saturday illustrated why he’s been called up to the national squad this season.
He used his feet very cleverly against the spinners, often shifting his weight onto the back foot to drive, cut and pull. Anything loose from the seamers was dismissed to the boundary and his second century of the season was richly deserved.
Having reached three figures, he was then deceived by the workmanlike Simmonds, who breached his defence after the left-hander had faced 192 balls and struck 14 fours.
That wicket lifted the Titans spirits and changed the momentum of the match. Ackerman, having made 74, was dismissed 35 minutes later, caught and bowled by Simmonds and thereafter it became a mini procession.
All in all the Dolphins lost five wickets for 75 runs in just under 22 overs, with Simmonds picking up two wickets and his fellow left-arm spinner Neil Brand two as well.
It does leave the game intriguingly poised with two days left. The Titans will bank on picking up the remaining Dolphins wickets quickly, but then will need to bat aggressively to give themselves a chance of forcing a win. That aggression however will also provide opportunities for the Dolphins’ bowlers, making day four an interesting prospect.