The Dolphins earned the opportunity to become the principal challengers in the Sunfoil Series title race after inflicting a remarkable collapse on the Titans on the third evening in Centurion. A 138-run stand between centurion Dean Elgar and Qaasim Adams hauled The Unlimited Titans back into the match, taking their lead to 140 with six wickets in hand, only for the Dolphins to snuff out that recovery with two quick spurts. The first one saw Calvin Savage grab two wickets in four balls as the Titans lost three wickets for seven runs in 16 balls; the second saw the innings ended in abrupt fashion as the final three wickets went down in seven balls without a run being added.
The Titans thereby tumbled from 225/4 to 261 all out in their second innings to set the Dolphins a target of 177. The visitors will begin that chase on the final morning after bad light prevented them from starting their innings. Up until tea, the third day had largely belonged to the Titans.
They prevented the Dolphins from making significant additions to their first innings, which resumed on 314/6 and ended on 352 as Marchant De Lange grabbed three of the last four wickets. The 24-year-old thus finished with the pick of the figures – 4/68 in 24.5 overs – while Ethy Mbhalati had 4/106. The deficit of 85 still looked large when the Titans lost their first four wickets with only 87 on the board, but the partnership between Elgar and Adams proved what was possible and suggested that the hosts could find a way back into the game.
That was not to be as Savage (3/55) had Adams and David Wiese caught behind in consecutive overs and Matthew Pillans bowled Mangaliso Mosehle for a duck. Elgar went to his century the ball before Mosehle’s dismissal and then found some stability in a 57-minute partnership with De Lange that allowed him to gradually free his arms, but soon the innings was over in the blink of an eye. De Lange was trapped lbw by Keshav Maharaj, and in the next over Daryn Smit’s first over yielded the wickets of Elgar and Mbhalati for no runs to leave the Dolphins with a very achievable target.