The Dolphins gave themselves an early confidence boost in their Momentum One-Day Cup campaign when they put in a near-perfect performance to beat the Knights with a bonus point at the Pietermaritzburg Oval on Sunday.
Although they were guilty of finishing their innings poorly, falling from 197-5 in the 44th over to 246 all out, the rest of their cricket showed focus and intensity which translated into a 76-run victory on a sluggish pitch.
Coach Lance Klusener had spoken about the need to master conditions at the venue, and he could hardly complain with the way that his side responded.
After winning the toss and electing to bat – despite knowing that it would be difficult up front – the hosts gained the upper hand through a 71-run stand for the second wicket between Cameron Delport (46) and Vaughn van Jaarsveld.
While Delport played the attacking role in that partnership, Van Jaarsveld took up that mantle once Delport had been bowled by Werner Coetsee and added a further 65 with Andile Phehlukwayo (31).
However, things began to fall apart when man of the match Van Jaarsveld was dismissed for 82 by Obus Pienaar, as the runs dried up with Coetsee and Pienaar bowling in tandem.
The pressure created by the two left the Dolphins with plenty to do at the end of their innings, and on a pitch where it was difficult to force the pace, wickets tumbled.
Coetsee and Pienaar finished with combined figures of 3-47 from 15 overs, while a couple of run-outs contributed to the Dolphins being bowled out with three balls left unused.
The Knights chase was always in trouble after they lost Gerhardt Abrahams and Rudi Second to consecutive deliveries in Robbie Frylinck’s first over.
Ryan McLaren followed up with the wicket of Diego Rosier, and once Craig Alexander had grabbed the big wicket of Reeza Hendricks for 38 to leave the Knights on 77 for five, the game was as good as up.
Left-arm spinner, Keshav Maharaj, duly pulled the rug from under the stumbling Knights’ feet, taking 3-23 in 10 overs, before Frylinck finished the job by bowling Malusi Siboto for 36.
Frylinck ended with figures of 3-22 in 9.1 overs as the Knights were bowled out for 170 in 46.1 overs.