Durban - The Dolphins got their MTN40 campaign off to winning start by claiming a convincing 37 run win against the Cape Cobras at Kingsmead on Friday night.
Dolphins' captain Imran Khan had no hesitation in batting first on a flat wicket and most of his top order responded with useful knocks helping the home team amass 288 runs. Khan, Cameron Delport, new signing Ravi Bopara and Glen Addicott chipped in with scores over fifty runs.
In the end, Bopara claimed the Man of the Match award with his top score of 80 runs and a wicket but debutant Addicott could just as easily have claimed the award with his swashbuckling innings of 70 runs from 41 balls.
The Cobras remained on track for the first half of the run chase but the required run-rate of seven per over from the outset ultimately proved to be too imposing for the visitors.
The blistering 126 run partnership off 78 balls for the fourth wicket between Bopara and Addicott provided the backbone of the home teams batting initiative.
Upfront, the hosts were on the back-foot when they lost Loots Bosman in the second over with just three runs on the scoreboard. The opener was trapped leg before wicket by paceman Philander without getting off the mark.
A rapid-fire 72 run partnership off 42 balls between left-handers Delport and Khan for the second wicket gave the Dolphins the right impetus.
Delport was the main aggressor and raced to his maiden half century off 23 balls which included nine fours and two hits over the fences.
He succumbed when his score was on 52. He got a thick outside edge to Mondi Zondeki. Johan Louw came off the third-man boundary to pocket the opportunity.
Khan, who was happy to play second fiddle when batting with Delport, upped his scoring rate thereafter when teaming up with Bopara and, the pair added 60 runs for the third wicket.
However, the captain was dismissed when he tried to hit spinner Justin Ontong to the long-on boundary but he only succeed in lofting the ball straight to the bowler.
Bopara who is renowned for his exploits in the shortened form of the game, oozed class during his innings. He kept the scoreboard ticking with clever nudges and crisp boundary hitting, including three fours and three sixes.
Addicott though, was less subtle. After a watchful start, he took the Cobras attack apart with some lusty blows. His innings included nine boundaries. Seven of them flew over the ropes.
The partnership ended when Bopara was unable to keep out a full delivery from Vernon Philander which crashed into his stumps, the score was 261/5 at that stage with just three overs to go.
But Addicott didn't hang around for too much longer. He departed two balls later when he was caught by Stiaan van Zyl in the covers off Louw's delivery.
The Dolphins lower order managed to scramble a further 20 runs setting a target of 282 for the visitors. The Cobras, in reply, got off to a good start when Herschelle Gibbs and Andrew Puttick garnered 69 runs for the first wicket before Gibbs was clean bowled by Quentin Friend for 40 in the 12th over.
Dolphins' leg-spinner Imran Tahir who is proving to be a prolific wickettaker for the KZN franchise this season, claimed the wicket of Van Zyl by inducing the left-hander out of his crease, chasing a wide delivery. Keeper Darren Smit was quick to dislodge the bails.
Three balls later Tahir ran out Puttick (47) with a direct hit.
This brought the experienced Justin Kemp to the wicket and together with Justin Ontong, they tried to keep the Cobras track.
The duo put on 55 runs before Bopara had Ontong caught by Abbott on the mid-wicket boundary.
Wickets fell at regular intervals thereafter which completely derailed the run chase.
Kyle Abbot (3) and Tahir claimed the next four wickets with the visitors only reaching 244/9 at the end of their allotted overs.