It took a defiant, unbeaten sixth-wicket stand of 63 to counter the decimation of the KZN Dolphins’ top-order on day two of the SuperSport Series match against the Northern Titans at Kingsmead yesterday.
Elegant Jon Kent and the fighter that is Pierre de Bruyn rescued their side from a desperate 78 for five and took the score to 141 in reply to the Titans’ first-innings 211 before the players left the field due to bad light at around 2.20 pm.
Lahore-born Pakistani Imran Tahir had snapped up four for 16 in a stunning 8.3 overs before lunch in a spell of mesmerising leg-spin bowling to leave the Dolphins’ first dig in no-man’s land.
Tahir (29) is only five days back from England, where he set the County Championship alight in the latter half of the season. He has attracted keen interest from Proteas coach Mickey Arthur.
Now based here, the wizard of spin will have completed his SA residential period in about six months’ time and will likely be one of the first names penciled in by the national selectors.
There was a sense of irony in that Dolphins openers Imraan Khan and Rivash Gobind had successfully negotiated challenging four-over spells from Titans quicks Morne Morkel and Ethy Mbhalati under the Kingsmead floodlights after a 40-minute hiccup due to bad light had delayed the start.
But Tahir’s introduction saw the Dolphins innings go pear-shaped when in his fourth over the spinner induced Gobind to edge to first slip Martin van Jaarsveld. Khan won’t be happy after banging a full Tahir delivery back to the bowler and David Miller (19) was undone by a beautiful leg-break that put safe slipper Van Jaarsveld back in business.
One can feel sympathy for Miller, as the late withdrawal of the injured Hashim Amla took the rising talent out of the relative comfort of an anticipated number six berth between the experience of HD Ackerman and Jon Kent directly into the spotlight of first-wicket and an on-song spinner.
Skipper Ahmed Amla and new Dolphin Ackerman dug their heels in and lunch beckoned invitingly before the last over saw Tahir unfurl a gorgeous googly that bit back to unsettle the bails.
Post-lunch, Amla attempted to sweep a Tahir full toss and was bowled.
Weather permitting, day three starts at 9 am and promises more fascinating cricket with the Dolphins no doubt determined to re-establish the dominance of day one.