Aggressive batting by Khaya Zondo and Sibonelo Makhanya helped pave the way for the Dolphins to make it six One-Day Cup wins from seven after they surged to a comfortable 35-run DLS victory over the Titans in Durban on Thursday.
The pair both struck 60, the former from 52 balls and the latter just 40 deliveries, backing up the good work done by an in-form Sarel Erwee as the hosts amassed 308 for six after winning the toss and batting at Kingsmead.
The reply by the visitors lacked real urgency until Tony de Zorzi (54 off 46 balls, 5 fours, 1 six), batting in the unfamiliar position of five, cut loose alongside Rivaldo Moonsamy (51 not out off 55 balls, 3 fours, 2 sixes).
But, by that time, it was too late as the defending champions were bowled out for 259 with the competition’s leading wicket-taker and home captain, Keshav Maharaj, finishing as the pick of the bowlers with three for 49.
That completed another strong win by Imraan Khan’s charges, who extended their advantage over the Imperial Lions to eight points at the top of the table.
And the KwaZulu-Natal side were full value for the win, impressing hugely with both bat and ball under heavily overcast skies on the east coast.
Erwee led the way by top-scoring with 68 off 85 balls (6 fours) – an innings that followed hot on the heels of his weekend century against the Warriors.
The opener put on 67 for the first wicket with Grant Roelofsen (41), before more than doubling that number with a partnership of 72 alongside Marques Ackerman (31) for the next wicket.
After a trio of quick wickets by the returning Aiden Markram (3/49) threatened to derail the home side, Zondo (6 fours) and Makhanya (3 fours, 4 sixes) found each other during a blistering stand.
They put on 112 together for the sixth wicket in just over 11 overs, helping the Dolphins set 309.
The response was surprisingly slow by the champions as they reached 45 for one in the 11th over, before a brief rain interruption meant four overs were discarded and the target revised to 295.
Even after the resumption, the going was tough for the Titans, who slipped to 126 for five in the 29th over.
Markram struck 36 on his return from injury, before he was stumped off the in-form Maharaj, who was playing his last game before heading off to join the Standard Bank Proteas for their One-Day International Series against Australia.
Then came the urgency through De Zorzi and Moonsamy as they put on 77 for the sixth wicket.
However, with the run-rate climbing heavily, the former perished and with it any outside hopes of the Titans, with Maharaj, Daryn Dupavillon (2/39) and Robbie Frylinck (2/47) helping to close out the win.