Pietermaritzburg - Justin Ontong led from the front as the Cape Cobras put in one of the most dominant days of batting by any team in the current Sunfoil Series campaign to leave the Dolphins reeling at the City Oval.
Ontong finished unbeaten on 150 from 199 balls as the Cobras amassed 440 for four from the day’s 96 overs - despite being asked to bat by the Dolphins.
Such positivity translated into 6.8 batting points on the day, which could go some way to ensuring that last season’s champions avoid the wooden spoon.
While Ontong’s first century of the campaign naturally caught the eye, he will no doubt point to the solid base set up by openers Andrew Puttick and Matthew Kleinveldt, who didn’t take long to get on top of the Dolphins bowlers.
Puttick scored freely, with his 75 in a partnership of 131 coming off just 94 balls, while Kleinveldt applied a more patient touch in stroking 97.
The Dolphins made three major changes to their attack, with Daryn Dupavillon and Matthew Pillans enjoying a much-needed rest, and young pacers Graham Hume and Craig Kirsten coming in to be led by Ryan McLaren, who played his first game since February 10.
The new combination did not work out as hoped, but Keshav Maharaj continued his good form to pick up three of the four wickets that fell.
The left-arm spinner broke the initial stand when he had Puttick caught behind, and later dismissed Kleinveldt and Dane Vilas in the space of four balls.
Although McLaren bowled last week’s double-centurion, Omphile Ramela, for just 14, Kleinveldt and Ontong put on 166 for the third wicket in just 37 overs.
Yet the quickest partnership was still to come, as Ontong and Justin Kemp added 104 runs in the last 22 overs of the day to press home the Cobras’ advantage.
Kemp went to the close unbeaten on 57 from just 67 balls, having hit two sixes and nine fours, meaning that all but nine of his runs came from boundaries.