Good, solid cricket

2014-12-22 00:00

IF bad light hadn’t intervened on Saturday afternoon in the four-day series clash between the Dolphins and Warriors at Pietermaritzburg Oval, this would have been a meeting to savour. Good, solid cricket over the four days would have been the winner but the inevitable draw was still entertaining nonetheless.

In hindsight though, this was a great encounter that saw fortunes ebb and flow throughout. Both sides enjoyed good and bad sessions, allowing the other to take advantage until the battle resumed and fortunes changed once more. This was solid four-day cricket at its best with neither side keen to submit and show a weak underbelly.

When time was called yesterday, the Dolphins were 145-5 chasing 261 for victory in 45 overs, a scenario which was far from their minds come the close of play on Friday, the halfway stage of the clash. At that point, the Dolphins were 262-8 in their first innings, some way short of the Warriors’ 353 and it looked as though the Dolphins would concede valuable runs on the first innings.

Enter Ryan McLaren, making his debut for the Dolphins in first-class cricket, who took his overnight 38* to a superb 121*, sharing partnerships of 65, 64 and 72 with Thandi Tshabalala (30), Imran Tahir (33) and Craig Alexander (11) for the eighth, ninth and tenth wickets.

Against all odds, the Dolphins eked out a 17-run lead, ending on 370 and inviting the Warriors to take the initiative. The visitors stumbled and stuttered through their second innings, finishing Saturday on 75-2 and most observers predicted a draw.

Although that was the final result, the Dolphins had other ideas and fought tooth and nail for an outright win. They took five wickets in the first session yesterday, the Warriors heading for lunch on 156-7 as the bowlers held sway. The Warriors battled to construct any partnerships of substance and, as with the Dolphins’ batting, the lower order had to save the day.

As time clicked on, they did just enough, Simon Harmer (57), Andrew Birch (43) and Sisanda Magala (42) frustrating the Dolphins in allowing Warriors captain Colin Ingram to declare on 277-9, enough to challenge the Dolphins to make a go of proceedings. Alexander (3-71), Tahir (2-55) and Robbie Frylinck (2-36) were the best with the ball and it was up to the batsmen to produce.

Wickets were always a concern and at 64-4, with Vaughn van Jaarsveld (0) and David Miller (1) been and gone, the challenge fell away and it was time to close up shop. At the close, McLaren was unbeaten on seven and Morné van Wyk was on an entertaining 41* from 66 balls. Harmer finished on 3-124 from 34 overs to support his earlier feat with the bat.

“We did well to come back in the first innings where Ryan (McLaren) showed his class and that slight advantage was huge in the context of the game,” said Van Wyk.

“Who knows what would have happened had we not lost time on Saturday but credit to the team and the bowlers for coming back well and making sessions count when it mattered.”

The Dolphins took 7,4 points from the game and the Warriors 7,92. McLaren was an unchallenged nomination in being named man of the match.

Next up for the Dolphins are the Titans at Kingsmead from December 27-30.

Scores in brief

Warriors 353 & 277/9d

Dolphins 370 & 145/5 (35.2 ov)

Match drawn

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