DURBAN – The Titans have manufactured themselves into the pound seats at Kingsmead, even if the weather has tried its very best to disrupt any chance of an outright result.
At stumps on day three yesterday, which was bathed in brilliant sunshine, the men from Pretoria stood at 325/8 in their Four-Day Franchise Series clash against the Dolphins, giving them a lead of 139 runs.
What the Titans certainly did yesterday was give themselves a fighting chance. There were important runs right down the order, from an obdurate 33 from Gionne Koopman, an enterprising 49 from Andrea Agathagelou, some patience and power from skipper Shaun von Berg (54), and lower-order intent from Matthew Arnold (37) and Eldred Hawken, who rushed to a 41-ball half century before the close.
But the real star for the Titans was Jonathan Vandiar, who came in at a crucial time, and settled immediately. He tucked into the Dolphins offering almost at will, on his way to 67.
National Test spinner Keshav Maharaj even employed five boundary riders to him, as a mark of the comfortability that the left-hander enjoyed in the middle. As long as he was at the crease, the Titans could think of setting any total. He perished poorly, following a wide delivery from debutant Lwandiswa Zuma, and gifting the youngster his first franchise wicket.
Von Berg then picked up the slack, becoming increasingly brutal on anything in his scoring areas. He hit three fours in one over from Eathan Bosch. The Dolphins were happy to see the back of him soon after, but the tail was still to wag for the visitors. Arnold was responsible coming in at No 9, but he leapt on anything full.
We’re prepped and ready to go for the final day of #DOLVTTN at Kingsmead.
The Multiply Titans will resume on 325-8 and a lead of 139. Eldred Hawken (50*) and Tshepo Moreki (12*) the overnight batsmen. #4DaySeries pic.twitter.com/diQ2p3z6i5
Hawken then came in and turned a good day into a very good one for the Titans, drilling 10 boundaries in a 41-ball cameo. That would have really hurt the Dolphins, who toiled all day. Maharaj bowled 39 overs on the day, finishing with 3/122. Zuma and Bosch picked up a pair of wickets apiece, while Okuhle Cele snared Koopman leg-before.
The Titans will believe, weather permitting, that they can apply some pressure on the Dolphins. They will most likely give Hawken the freedom to carry on playing as he has, and try and get closer to a lead of 200.
Then, it will be over to an attack that had the Dolphins dangling at 69/7 on the first morning. If they can get their hosts to revisit those demons so soon, it could be a very interesting afternoon at Kingsmead.