Johannesburg - The Titans duly completed a seven-wicket victory over the Dolphins at the Pietermaritzburg Oval on Sunday to close up behind the leading Knights at the top of the SuperSport Series log.
The Knights had a high-scoring, although tense, draw against the Highveld Lions at the Diamond Oval with both Neil McKenzie (his 42nd) and Temba Bavuma (his third) scoring centuries for the visitors before they set the Knights an improbable 344 for victory in 59 overs. McKenzie finished unbeaten on 110 (240 balls, 15 fours) and Bavuma on exactly 100 (168 balls, 10 fours and a six).
Together they put on 194 for the fifth wicket in 55 overs.
The Knights had an early hiccup when they lost three quick wickets to Cliffie Deacon but they quickly recovered through a fourth-wicket partnership of 86 between Reeza Hendricks (63 off 102 balls, 12 fours) and Obus Pienaar and interest had seemingly settled on whether the latter would be able to score two centuries in the match.
Pienaar gave Deacon his fifth wicket of the innings when he fell for a typically aggressive 64 (78 balls, 13 fours) and this wicket opened up the possibility of a Lions win with four wickets left to take in the last 17 overs.
These were successfully negotiated by the experienced Ryan McLaren and rookie Michael Erlank with a stand of just 15 runs during this period to bring an excellent game of cricket to a tense finish.
Match referee Cyril Mitchley named Obus Pienaar as SuperSport Series Man of the Match.
The Titans wasted no time in taking the last two Dolphins’ wickets for the addition of 22 runs, setting themselves a target of 172 for victory.
Daryn Smit, the first innings top scorer, ran out of partners to be left stranded on 24 not out (73 balls, 1 four).
Left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj, coming on at first change, caused an early scare for the Titans when he took three wickets in the first 20 overs including in-form Jacques Rudolph.
But that was the last success that the Dolphins were to enjoy as Farhaan Behardien (57 off 126 balls, 5 fours) and captain Martin van Jaarsveld (57 off 84 balls, 8 fours and a six) finished the match with an unbroken partnership of 108 in 30.3 overs.
Maharaj finished with 3/62 in 24 overs.
Match referee Shaid Wadvalla gave the SuperSport Man of the Match award to Jacques Rudolph.
The SuperSport Series gets back into full swing this week with the return of the Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras and the Chevrolet Warriors to domestic competition.
The full programme for Thursday is: Buffalo Park: Chevrolet Warriors vs. Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras; Sahara Stadium Kingsmead: Sunfoil Dolphins vs. Chevrolet Knights; Senwes Park: bizhub Highveld Lions vs. Nashua Titans