Lions, Dol­phins call a truce at the Oval

Nei­ther side pushed the en­ve­lope and tried to force vic­tory af­ter rain had ru­ined two days of the Sun­foil Se­ries clash

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - LUNGANI ZAMA

MER­CI­FULLY, just af­ter 4pm, the Lions and the Dol­phins both sur­ren­dered hope in a con­test that had long pe­tered out into an ex­er­cise in time-killing, and called their Sun­foil Se­ries match in Mar­itzburg a truce.

Af­ter two days of weather dis­rup­tions had taken out a chunk of play­ing time, yes­ter­day saw a re­turn of glo­ri­ous blue skies, and a feint chance of some­body go­ing for the jugu­lar. The Dol­phins ini­tially looked as if they may throw cau­tion to the wind, but changed their tune when the in-form Vaughn van Jaarsveld holed out to long-on for 25, they re­treated back into their shell at 47/3.

Khaya Zondo, added to his un­beaten cen­tury in the first in­nings with 54 in the sec­ond dig, as he so­lid­i­fied the Dol­phins ship and sealed a Man of the Match award. He got handy sup­port from Si­bonelo Makhanya 27, Morne van Wyk 28, be­fore a gung-ho Ke­shav Ma­haraj blitzed 26 off 14 balls, with the dec­la­ra­tion on the hori­zon.

Beu­ran Hen­dricks took three wick­ets for the vis­i­tors, but he is still short of the fit­ness or pace that saw him be­come a na­tional player a few sea­sons back. The Lions, and his ac­tual em­ploy­ers – the Co­bras – by ex­ten­sion, will be pleased to see him get through a solid work­load.

The Dol­phins even­tu­ally closed their in­nings on 189/6, for a lead of 261, and 51 overs left in the day to try and bowl out the Lions.

In the big­ger pic­ture, it was as big a car­rot as they could dan­gle, es­pe­cially as the Lions are still close enough to them to be a fac­tor in the race for the four-day ti­tle.

The Lions’ biggest threat was al­ways go­ing to be Ma­haraj, whose six-wicket haul in the first in­nings was still fresh in the mind. It was no sur­prise that he got the only wicket to fall, as he got through the de­fences of Stephen Cook again, and trapped him leg-be­fore for 10.

Rassi van der Dussen, who opened with Cook, started promis­ingly, but even­tu­ally set­tled into the more se­date rhythm of the Lions’ in­nings, end­ing on 38 not out. The lanky opener had ear­lier hooked Rabian En­gel­brecht’s new ball high into the bank for a mighty six.

A silky straight drive sug­gested that Van der Dussen was in the mood, but that was as force­ful as it ever got from the vis­i­tors. Ma­haraj kept ask­ing ques­tions, and had Do­minic Hen­dricks dropped at the wicket af­ter tea.

But, as the shad­ows started to lengthen, the Lions’ bat­ting be­came more ob­du­rate, and the writ­ing be­came clearer on the wall.

The Dol­phins stretched their lead to 7.90 points at the top of the stand­ings, but they have played a game more than their ri­vals, such as the Knights and the Ti­tans. Both the Lions and the Dol­phins have a break next week, be­fore the KZN out­fit returns to Mar­itzburg, to host the Ti­tans.

A re­sult in that match will be piv­otal, as it will be the penul­ti­mate round of fix­tures.

The Dol­phins will hope for bet­ter weather and, per­haps, a more en­ter­pris­ing mind­set from an op­po­si­tion that will likely be chas­ing the ti­tle, too.

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