PIETERMARITZBURG – Cody Chetty produced his finest knock as a franchise player, while Sarel Erwee continued his excellent form of this season as the Dolphins stood firm and defied the Titans to a second stalemate inside a month in the Sunfoil Series on Thursday.
As was the case in Pretoria, the Dolphins went into the final day in Maritzburg with two wickets already down, having been asked to follow-on by the visitors.
Erwee started the morning with intent, clubbing Tabraiz Shamsi for a six and a four in one over, and generally not allowing the bowlers to settle on a length.
Vaughn van Jaarsveld traded his cavalier strokeplay for a touch of the circumspect, as he and Erwee added 100 for the second wicket.
Van Jaarsveld’s lot was 39, but in the bigger scheme of things, his lowest score of the season was actually his most valuable contribution to the cause.
He was undone by a clever Shamsi googly to be trapped lbw.
That brought centurions Erwee and Chetty together, with the former continuing to go hard at anything loose, and the latter utilising his rubber wrists to turn decent balls into runs.
The Titans were getting increasingly frustrated as the whiff of déjà vu lingered thick in the Maritzburg atmosphere.
Their spinners – after a massive workload over two days – started wilting, dropping the odd ball short and not exerting the same pressure as the first innings.
Erwee bludgeoned his way to a ton off 163 balls, with 14 fours and six into the pavilion.
At the other end, the elastic Chetty cruised on, reading the spinners from the hand and being resolute in defence.
Just before lunch, the pressure was released when Dean Elgar came on for a speculative over. Chetty pounced, clubbing him for two sixes and a four, in an over that eventually cost 19 runs.
The Dolphins were looking composed, but then Erwee was deceived by Alfred Mothoa’s slower ball and was bowled for 132 fine runs.
Beyond the midday fare, skipper Khaya Zondo – with a minimum of foot movement – calmly pushed on with the set Chetty.
Zondo was eventually caught on the crease by the toiling Shaun von Berg, and trapped leg-before for 23.
He had batted for over an hour, and minutes mattered more than the runs. Once the skipper departed, Kolpak signing Dane Vilas (58 not out from 68 balls) injected a welcome dose of urgency in the middle.
He swept, drove and ran hard as he confirmed to the Titans that the Dolphins were not going to give it up. By then the deficit had become a lead, and the Titans were running out of fresh ideas.
Aiden Markram had a diving chance off Chetty, but all he got for his efforts was a nick on the finger – which he immediately ran off the field for.
By then, Chetty had reached a wonderful hundred, one full of maturity, character and fine strokeplay.
With the Dolphins leading by 143 at tea, the two sides called a truce.
The Titans took the lion’s share of the shared points, but the Dolphins will be heartened by the fact that they again dug in and refused to lose a match where they were always on the back foot.
Titans 500/6 declared
Dolphins 216 all out and 427/4 (Cody Chetty 142 not out, Sarel Erwee 132, Dane Vilas 58 not out)