The Dolphins began the defence of their Momentum One-Day Cup title with a very impressive bonus point win as they swept the Titans away by 76 runs in Potchefstroom, where they found conditions very much to their liking on Saturday.
The Dolphins were sent in to bat after the Titans won what seemed a very good toss. Teams batting second have won more games at Senwes Park recently and the pitch held some moisture, making it slow. The general consensus was that the wicket would get faster, making scoring easier, as it dried in the sun.
But the Titans were a mess in the field, bowling 21 wides and missing half-a-dozen chances.
Nevertheless, three wickets fell in the first 11 overs, Dayyaan Galiem claiming a brace, and the Dolphins were grateful for a fine 65 off 69 balls by opener Grant Roelofsen that kept them afloat.
Andile Phehlukwayo played a crucial innings of 51 off 69 balls as he added 54 for the fifth wicket with Roelofsen and then another 50 for the sixth wicket with Senuran Muthusamy.
But when Phehlukwayo was removed by Kyle Abbott in a much better second spell by the rusty fast bowler, the Dolphins were 183 for six in the 37th over and still had plenty of work to do if they were to post a challenging total.
It was Muthusamy who ensured the Dolphins reached 272 for seven with an outstanding innings of 70 not out off 69 deliveries. The left-hander stuck it out through the tough initial stages on a pitch which made it hard to force the pace, but then scored freely at the death. With the help of Robbie Frylinck’s 32, the Dolphins scored 59 runs in the last five overs.
Spinner Tabraiz Shamsi bowled very well for the Titans with one for 45 in 10 overs.
With the bowling of the Dolphins being much tighter and their fielding better, it was obviously going to be a tough chase for the Titans. It became even more difficult when Frylinck (8-0-25-1) and Kerwin Mungroo (7-2-16-2) bowled superbly up front to remove openers Diego Rosier and Neil Brand cheaply inside the powerplay.
The class of Theunis de Bruyn posed a threat but the introduction of seamer Ruan de Swardt, midway through the 22nd over when the excellent Phehlukwayo (5.3-0-14-0) started cramping, saw the back of the Proteas batsman for 36.
The variety and skills of the Dolphins attack meant the pressure was never released and the Titans limped to 196 for eight in their 50 overs.
The probing left-arm spin of man of the match Muthusamy saw him take two for 39 in 10 overs, while De Swardt ruled the middle overs with three for 30.
The Dolphins now play the Knights on Sunday and they will be hoping the conditions keep reminding them of Kingsmead and home.