PIETERMARITZBURG – The Titans have strong-armed their way into a winning position, and all that stands between them and the first outright victory of the Sunfoil Series is final-day obduracy from the Dolphins, who leaked 11 wickets on a hot and testing third day here on Wednesday.
The mercury is expected to rise higher still on the final day, on and off the field, as the Titans look to inflict a heavy defeat on their hosts.
Since the visitors won the toss on Monday morning, as most people were stepping into their office meetings, the Titans have been hard at work, winning session after session, after session.
Having settled on 500/6, they then bowled out the Dolphins for just 216 in their first innings. On bonus points alone, the Titans are already on 8.3 for this contest. But they are after the full haul, and their varied attack is determined to finish the job Dean Elgar’s double hundred started.
Should the men from Pretoria emerge victorious, the plaudits will likely go to wrist-spin twins Tabraiz Shamsi and Shaun von Berg.
But the relentless toil of Alfred Mothoa, Malusi Siboto and Cordin Bosch cannot be overlooked. All day, they kept their end of the bargain, not releasing the pressure valve, and chipping in with crucial breakthroughs.
Mothoa returned 3/30 in the first dig, in 14 nagging overs.
Siboto and the lively Bosch got a scalp apiece, as they all kept at the Dolphins. And, when they rested, Von Berg and Shamsi wrought havoc in the Dolphins ranks, with spells that were as accurate as they were damaging.
Shamsi (3/37) finished the Dolphins’ innings off in a hurry, trapping Robbie Frylinck leg-before, then hooping a classic chinaman through Prenelan Subrayen’s wide open gate.
The control that both spinners displayed, with men around the bat, was exemplary for the hardest craft in the game.
Senuran Muthusamy fought hard for his 64, until he was well held by the excellent Heinrich Klaasen down leg-side off Von Berg.
On a ragging pitch, Klaasen’s glove-work was a pleasure to observe, and he contributed fully to the claustrophobia that the Dolphins were subjected to.
In the follow-on innings, Muthusamy fell early, but Sarel Erwee dug in, reaching a determined 88 not out at the close. Vaughn van Jaarsveld (39) stuck with him until late in the day, when Shamsi nailed him with a delightful wrong ’un, to nab him leg-before.
Incredibly, the match has enjoyed terrific weather, and there appears little chance of Mother Nature intervening on Thursday.
A month ago, the Dolphins repelled the Titans on the final day at Centurion, thanks to a century from skipper Khaya Zondo.
Still 124 runs in arrears, they will need much, much more of the same, if they are to pull this rabbit out of the hat.