Rampant Tahir stars against titans as Dolphins look for momentum

2010-10-18 00:00

THE KZN Dolphins completed an emphatic, nine-wicket win over the Titans on Saturday, and once again their terrific twirler played a prominent part.

Coach Graham Ford admitted that they were slightly surprised that the star-laden Titans capitulated so hastily, but the Dolphins attack certainly hit their straps.

“The whole unit is doing very well right now, and obviously Tahir is world-class,” Ford enthused on a rare Sunday off.

Tahir tore through the Titans middle-order, but it was the seamers exploiting the early start that got the Dolphins going.

Quinton Friend, leading the attack with relish, struck twice in the opening over, before Jon Kent got the dangerous Jacques Rudolph to feather one to Daryn Smit.

Kyle Abbott also got in on the act, having Farhaan Behardien caught behind.

The Dolphins had been 280 for 8 overnight, and they certainly gave thought to declaring in order to exploit the 9 am start on a juicy pitch.

“I felt that it would be nice to get a few more runs ahead but, as it turned out, we got rolled over early and used those early conditions very well,” Ford explained.

And then it was the Tahir show.

His five-wicket haul sees him sitting pretty on 23 scalps after three SuperSport Series matches, and the Dolphins suddenly look a different team.

What is highly impressive about the wrist-spinner is his control, a useful thing with several men hovering around the bat.

His “wrong-un” is also in good working order, while the top-spinner has already garnered several leg-before decisions.

He really is the finished article, and the Dolphins — and the Proteas soon enough — will be reaping rich dividends for a long time if his first month here is anything to go by.

The Dolphins, with a measly 73-run target, would have been heartened by their inexperienced, top-order duo of Divan van Wyk and Bradley Moses finishing the job off in style.

“It was great to see, and also an important step for their careers,” Ford said.

“When you are new in the side, it is always a confidence-booster every time you contribute to the success.”

Van Wyk (38 not out) and Moses (22 not out) sealed the match just in time to beat the rain, and then to watch the Sharks complete a sweet double over the lot from Pretoria down the road.

Kevin Pietersen had joked that the Currie Cup semi-final was his main priority for the weekend, and he at least got that wish, as he missed out on a final turn at the crease.

Pietersen’s brief stay with the Dolphins was not all he would have hoped for, but the team have positively thrived in his presence.

“Having one of the best in the world here has been huge for the guys,” Ford revealed.

“A lot of the stuff he has done went unnoticed, but for the guys to get positive reinforcement from someone like him has been a massive boost.

“He showed during that brief innings in Maritzburg that he was getting back into his groove, and I know the entire team will be watching his progress in the Ashes with huge interest,” Ford said.

As Pietersen goes, fellow England batsman Ravi Bopara will arrive at Kingsmead.

“It’s perfect timing, and the arrival of these types of players really energises the team,” Ford enthused.

Bopara is here for two SuperSport Series matches, but the bulk of his work will be in the MTN40 Championship.

The Dolphins, with a win under their belt and a changeroom buzzing with excitement, will want to make winning a habit.

“It’s great to get the first win, but there is still a lot of cricket to be played,” Ford warned.

“What we need to do is use it as momentum going forward.”

The Dolphins are off to the Wanderers this week, where they will meet the Highveld Lions in another four-day assignment.

SCOREBOARD

Titans first innings: 242 all out — 77 overs

Dolphins first innings: 284 all out — 94.2 overs

Titans second innings

B Snijman c Smith b Friend0

J Rudolf c Smith b Kent15

G Bodi lbw Friend0

F Behaardien c Smith b Abbott25

H Khun lbw Tahir12

H Davids lbw Tahir17

C Pienaar c Tahir b Friend25

R vd Merwe not out16

C de Villiers b Tahir1

G Viljoen st Smith b Tahir1

E Mbhalati b Tahir0

Extras2 (1w, 1lb)

TOTAL (all out, 45 overs)114

Fow: 1-0, 2-0, 3-29, 4-54, 5-56, 6-90, 7-98, 8-108, 9-114, 10-114

Bowling: Friend 14-5-25-3 (1w), Abbott 12-4-29-1, J Kent 6-3-12-1, Tahir 13.5-2-47-5

Dolphins second innings

D van Wyk not out38

I Khan c Kuhn b de Villiers10

B Moses not out22

Extras (1nb, 2w, 1lb)4

TOTAL (for 1, 16.5 overs)74

Fow: 1-17,

Bowling: Mbhalati 6-0-24-0 (1nb), De Villiers 6.5-1-29-1 (2w), Viljoen 4-1-20-0

Result: Dolphins won by nine wickets

Man of the Match: Imran Tahir (Dolphins)

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