Cap’n Khan leads Dolphins’ run charge

2010-10-08 00:00

JUST in case you were thinking it was a one-man show, KZN Dolphins skipper Imraan Khan punched, pierced and expertly drove 161 other reasons to be at the Oval yesterday.

When time was called, in very welcome evening sunshine, the left-hander had chiselled out a career-best 161 not out, and helped his side to a healthy 328 for three in the Supersport Series clash with the Warriors.

He has taken quite a liking to the Maritzburg wicket, as only a fortnight ago he churned out a double-ton in the friendly against the Cobras.

And he ain’t quite done yet.

“I’ve had a good run of late here, and we know that once you get past the new ball, you can make a big one,” he said.

Of course, all the attention beforehand had been on Kevin Pietersen’s return to Maritzburg, and there was a slightly healthier turnout in the stands to catch a glimpse of one of the world’s best.

The England superstar calmly stroked his way to 36, but then got out just when he looked set to splash his class all over the park.

He got off the mark with a typical steer through mid-wicket off Makhaya Ntini for three, and then loosened his shoulders after lunch.

A dismissive pull of Shabeer Walters was soon followed by a searing straight drive in the same over.

Medium-pacer Lyall Meyer was then smashed for three fours in five balls as the ‘KP’ show gathered steam.

“I felt really good out there and it felt like gold to spend time at the crease again,” Pietersen said.

“I felt like I was getting into good touch, and it was nice to start moving through the gears,” he added.

Alas, the engine stopped all too soon for the crowd that had started to get excited at the prospect of a glittering knock, as Pietersen frustratingly holed out to a rather smart catch by Andrew Birch at mid-on off the part-time spin of Jon-Jon Smuts.

Pietersen took heart from his 73-minute stint at the crease, but he must be slightly rueful at not filling his boots for a while longer.

And it was certainly a peach of a day for batting.

Khan, opening with new recruit Divan van Wyk, left as much as possible in testing morning conditions.

Ntini got the ball moving around and beat Khan with a few pearlers but, in the main, the Warriors didn’t make the Dolphins play enough after sending them in.

“It was tough upfront, but once I got through that things got a lot easier,” Khan reflected after his fine display.

His driving was a dream, as he waited patiently before repeatedly piercing the off-side, with 27 boundaries.

Van Wyk looked unlucky to be adjudged leg-before to the bustling Birch in the fourth over.

Bradley Moses joined Khan, and they went about their business without too much fuss.

Ntini did suprise Moses with his late movement, resulting in a streaky inside edge to fine leg, but the Inland star certainly held his own in elevated company.

He and Khan added 74 gritty runs, until Moses fell just before lunch, trapped on the crease by Ntini.

Pietersen then took centre stage, but when he fell Ahmed Amla (79) rattled along with considerable ease, as he and Khan added 169 in 48 overs.

The Warriors improved their lines as the day went on but, by then, the wicket was perfect for batting.

Khan went past his previous best of 150 late in the day, with his drives as imperious as ever.

The Dolphins, with Imran Tahir in the hutch, will want to bat once and bat long to give their wrist-spinner runs to play with.

The Warriors, upon seeing a pitch sporting a green tinge, only went in with Smuts as a slow option.

Then again, Smuts will tell anyone who cares to listen that he has one of the world’s premier batsmen safely wedged in his back pocket.

Scoreboard at stumps

Toss: Warriors

Dolphins first innings

I Khan not out 161

D van Wyk lbw b Birch 3

B Moses lbw b Ntini 26

K Pietersen c Birch b Smuts 36

A Amla not out 79

Extras: (6lb, 8w, 9nb) 23

TOTAL: (for 3 wks, over 97) 328

Fall of wickets: 1-5, 2-79, 3-159.

Bowling: Makhaya Ntini 18-6-54-1, Andrew Birch 20-3-66-1, Basheer Walters 18-6-47-0, Lyall Meyer 13-1-59-0, Jon Jon Smuts 21-4-78-1, Justin Kreusch 7-2-18-0.

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