Cape Town - Khaya Zondo's eighth career century lit up a finely poised opening day of the only Sunfoil Series match taking place this week between the top-of-the-table Dolphins and the Highveld Lions at the City Oval in Pietermaritzburg on Thursday.
The in form right-hander was unbeaten at the close, having struck 105 (236 balls, 16 fours) and having rescued his side from early trouble to reach the close on 285/6.
With the match being the only one of round eight to be taking place, it is an excellent chance for both teams to take a giant stride towards the title with victory in KwaZulu-Natal.
The Dolphins outlined their intention to press for victory against their fifth-place opponents by naming five front-line bowlers, but the move looked a huge gamble after their top order batsmen failed them.
Having won the toss and batted, the home side lost four men before lunch, including the in-form Vaughn van Jaarsveld for 53 (61 balls, 8 fours).
Senuran Muthusamy (2), Divan van Wyk (34) and Sibonelo Makhanya (8) were the others to fall as debutant Beuran Hendricks (2/66) and Proteas all-rounder Dwaine Pretorius (3/38) landed some early blows.
However, a fifth-wicket stand of 102 between captain Morne van Wyk (39) and Zondo put them back on track.
The comeback was complete when Calvin Savage (20 not out) provided more support via an unbroken 55-run stand with key man Zondo – who now has two hundreds to go with four 50s this season - as the hosts finished the day strongly.