Pietermaritzburg - Dean Elgar’s rich run of form continued as he bagged a century to help the Knights seal a place in the 1 Day Cup playoffs after a commanding 102-run Duckworth/Lewis victory over the Dolphins here on Sunday.
Elgar, who now has 464 runs in eight one-day innings this season, made 117 off 112 balls to help the visitors post an imposing 302 for eight, before Johan van der Wath and Dillon du Preez snared three wickets apiece to leave the home side’s chase in tatters.
When the rain came during the late afternoon, the Dolphins had slumped to 137 for seven after 25.3 overs and the result looked a formality at the Pietermaritzburg Oval with only Daryn Smit (34 not out) causing any trouble for the Free Staters.
Obus Pienaar (88) was also a key figure for them with the bat to seal a win that books them a spot in the top three and a likely playoff against the Warriors, with only the venue to be decided in the final round of games on Wednesday.
After winning the toss and electing to bat first under clear skies at the Pietermaritzburg Oval, Morne van Wyk helped his side race to 22 inside three overs, before he was first out by slashing Kyle Abbott straight to David Miller at point for 14.
Two overs later the Dolphins medium pacer tempted the in-form Rilee Rossouw (eight) to play at a short delivery that was edged behind to Smit.
Michael Erlank put on 44 with Elgar as they steadied the ship, but Robert Frylinck drew an edge to wicketkeeper Smit for 30 leaving the Knights on 80 for three.
Pienaar was next in and proved the perfect foil for Elgar as they raised their 50 partnership from 67 deliveries.
Elgar raised his 50 by smashing Keshav Maharaj over deep backward square leg for a six, with his partner also starting to prosper as he reached a fourth one-day half century with successive fours off Cameron Delport.
The 100 stand was also up in no time, coming from 108 balls, with the visitors reaching 200 in the 37th over.
Elgar went past hundred with three fours in four balls off a Maharaj over that went for 16, before he was eventually out when a top-edge from Dane Paterson saw him caught by Khayelihle Zondo at square leg, the partnership finally broken at 185.
The score was 265 when he fell and with seven overs still remaining, the Dolphins clawed their way back slightly, with the key to that being the dismissal of Pienaar, whose 92-ball knock ended when he was stumped by Smit off Maharaj.
They ended up setting 303 with Abbott (four for 41) the pick of the bowlers, while Frylinck finished with two for 50.
The Dolphins were pegged back by the early loss of Imraan Khan (11), bowled via an inside edge by Van der Wath (3-31).
Loots Bosman ensured the run-rate was maintained while he was still in, although he fell to the same bowler and in the same way for 19.
That left the Dolphins on 42 for two and Zondo and Divan van Wyk (32) took them past 50 in the 10th over as they added a further 30 for the third wicket.
But they both fell within the space of five deliveries, with the hosts quickly dismantling.
Zondo was out for nine when he top-edged Werner Coetsee to Erlank at short fine leg, while Van Wyk offered a simple catch to Aubrey Swanepoel off Du Preez at midwicket.
Miller (17) helped take the hosts past 100, but then smashed Du Preez (three for 30) straight to Swanepoel fielding close in, while Delport (13) and Frylinck (nought) fell as the rain began to come down.
At that stage the Dolphins needed to be on 240 to have won, but they were well short of that figure and slipped to a third loss of the campaign that puts them out.
Fixtures for Wednesday (15:00 start):
Newlands: Cape Cobras vs Dolphins
Wanderers Stadium: Highveld Lions vs Knights
SuperSport Park: Titans vs.Warriors