A fighting innings of 145 from Dane Vilas pulled the Dolphins from the brink of disaster on day one of the Sunfoil match against the Cobras.
They ended the day on 310-8 after a day of toil in Oudtshoorn.
After being sent in to bat and losing two quick wickets, the Dolphins battled hard, but kept losing batsmen before any meaningful partnership had developed.
From 11-2, Vaughn van Jaarsveld (35), Cody Chetty (43) and Khaya Zondo (41), pulled the Dolphins to a precarious 151-5. But Vilas found a solid partner in Sibonelo Makhanya, who was prepared to dig in. He contributed just 10 to a partnership of 49 as Vilas played with sensible aggression, reaching his fifty off 51 balls and his 14th first-class hundred off 120.
Vilas was left holding the fort on 145 off 177 balls (17×4, 1×6), alongside Keith Dudgeon (4)
Vernon Philander, playing his first match since the tour to England in July when he was laid low by a stomach bug, followed by a back strain, made an immediate impact, having Senuran Muthusamy caught behind off the fourth ball of the day. He came back later to claim two more wickets, and showed he can still bowl with relentless discipline, conceding just 24 runs from his 17 overs.
The Proteas management will be following his progress with interest.
In Kimberley, rain ruined the day, allowing only 40 overs to be bowled, in which the Warriors laboured to 120-2 against the Knights.
Colin Ackermann was the mainstay of the innings, ending the day on 76 off 135 balls. He put on 60 for the second wicket with Gionne Koopman (22) and was with Yaseen Vallie (21) when the umpires called off play.
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