Durban - An inspired performance with the bat and ball from Dolphins import Ravi Bopara helped the KZN team coast to a 67 run victory against the Knights in an MTN40 match atKingsmead stadium on Friday night.
The Dolphins elected to bat after winning the toss and set a victory target of 202 runs with Bopara (60) being the chief contributor.
The Knights would have felt the target was gettable on a relatively easy playing wicket. But the miserly bowling of Bopara who claimed four wickets from six overs at a cost of eleven runs and some good support from spin duo Imran Tahir (2/26) and Keshav Maharaj (2/16)proved to be the Knights' main stumbling block.
With the Dolphins having already qualified for the semi-final stages, this bonus point victory saw them rise to the top of the Pool B standings and if that status quo remains, it could prove to be crucial in the semi-final stages which will be played on a home and away basis.
The Dolphins looked to be in a commanding position when they were cruising at 189/4 at the end of the 32nd over. Bopara and David Miller who were at the wicket at that time, looked well set to tear into the visiting bowling attack.
But the home team lost six wickets in as many overs and only managed to add a further 12 runs to their total.
The dismissal of Borpara, who perished when he chased a wide leg-side delivery from Johan van der Wath, looped up to keeper Morne Van Wyk, started the rot.
Three runs later, the big-hitting Miller was clean bowled by McLaren. After facing just two balls, Darryn Smith became McLaren's next victim.
With the Dolphins tail failing to wag, the Knights bagged the last four wickets at a cost of eight runs.
Up front the Dolphins lost Cameron Delport in the second over when McLaren clean bowled the opener, captain Imran Khan (23) and Ahmed Amla stabilised things for the home side with a 49 run partnership for the second wicket.
Once Khan departed, Amla who in spite of picking up a groin strain early in the early stages of his innings, and needed the services of runner, teamed up with Bopara and added 83 runs for the third wicket.
Just when Amla started to increase the rate of his scoring, he lofted a McLaren delivery straight to Dillon Du Preez when his score was on 58.
In hindsight, the catch grassed by Jandre Coetzee when Bopara had just one run to his name proved to be a costly miss for the visitors. The Englishman made the most of his reprieve and went to score 60 well crafted runs.
Morne van Wyk and Rezee Hendricks got the Knights' response off to a good start by putting on 43 runs for the first wicket. Van Wyk was especially aggressive, with his 34 runs coming from 27 balls.
Riley Roussouw and Ryan Bailey seemed to have the Knights on track for the win during their 46 run third wicket partnership but Bopara claimed both their wickets.
By this time, Dolphins' talismanic Tahir was introduced into the attack. He trapped Adrian Mclaren leg before wicket in the 23 over to leave visitors wobbling at 110/5.
While he applied the pressure at one end, Maharaj who was bowling in tandem with Tahir, plunged the Knights into further trouble by picking up the wickets of Ryan McLaren and Johan van der Wath in the space of two overs.
Bopara delivered the telling blow in the 33 over when he claimed the wickets of Adrian Kruger and Dillon Du Preez in consecutive balls. Tahir wrapped up the Knights innings when he had Con De Lange caught behind.
I Khan c Du Preez b vd Wath 23
C Delport b McClaren 6
A Amla c Du Preez b McClaren 58
R Bopara c Van Wyk b vd Wath 60
V Van Jaarsveld c Du Preez b De Lange 2
D Miller b McClaren 27
G Addicott b Coetzee1
D Smith c Van Wyk b McClaren 0
J Kent not out 5
K Abbott r/o McClaren 1
I Tahir c Elgar b Coetzee 0
Extras: 18 (10w, 6lb, 1nb)
Total: (all out) 201 -- 38 Overs Fall of wickets: 1/8, 2/57, 3/140, 4/147, 5/190, 6/ 193, 7/ 193, 8/193, 9/200
Bowling: Van der Wath 7-0-35-2, McClaren 8-1-42-4, Du Preez 6-0-30-0, Kruger 6-0-29-0, De Lange 5-0-38-1, Coetzee 5-0-12-2, Van Schalkwyk 1-0-8-0
M Van Wyk b Kent 34
R Hendricks c Addicott b Abbot 8
R Roussouw lbw b Bopara 30
R Bailey b Bopara 24
D Elgar c Delport b Maharaj 12
A McLaren lbw b Tahir 1
R McLaren c and b Maharaj 5
Van der Wath not out 8
A Kruger c Smit b Bopara 2
D Du Preez b Bopara 0
De Lange c Smith b Tahir 1
Extras: 97lb, 2w) 9
Total: (all out) 134 -- 33.4 overs
Fall of wickets: 1/43, 2/43, 3/ 99, 4/108, 109/5, 6/122, 7/133, 8/133, 9/133
Bowling: Shezi 5-0-23-0, Abbott 5-0-26-1, Kent 6-0-25-1, Maharaj 4-0-16-2, Tahir 7.4-1-26-2, Bopara 6-0-11-4
Result: Dolphins win by 67 runs
Man of the Match: Ravi Bopara