Keshav Maharaj’s career-best bowling figures spurred the Dolphins on to a first Sunfoil Series win of the season as they beat the Warriors by 55 runs on the final day at St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth on Sunday.
The Proteas spinner and stand-in captain claimed seven for 76 – the best bowling figues by any bowler in 2017/18 – to help his side claim the final four wickets and bowl the hosts out for 230 before lunch.
The Warriors had been chasing a target of 286 and resumed the final day on 172 for six, but were dismissed in 78.5 overs as the visitors claimed only the third overall win of the campaign to stay in the hunt for the title.
Simon Harmer and Clyde Fortuin, both on four, were the two unbeaten batsmen at the start, and they kept their side in contention for the opening 10 overs when they shifted the score on to 199 for six.
But the latter fell to Senuran Muthusamy for 15 to open the door for the Dolphins and Maharaj then took out Ayabulela Gqamane (12) and Tladi Bokako (0) both leg before wicket with the total on 212.
Anrich Nortje (3) was then run out, leaving Harmer, the hero with the ball for the Warriors after he took 12 wickets earlier in the game, stranded on 36.
Maharaj, meanwhile, improved on his previous best figures of seven for 89 in the same fixture last season as his side reduced the gap at the top of the table.
Zubayr Hamza powered the Cape Cobras to 117 for four with a quick-fire fifty before the Sunfoil Series match against the Highveld Lions ended in a stalemate at Boland Park in Paarl.
Cobras, Lions in high-scoring draw
Nicky van den Bergh and Zubayr Hamza hit final-day half-centuries as the Sunfoil Series clash between the Cape Cobras and Highveld Lions ended in a draw at Eurolux Boland Park in Paarl on Sunday.
The visitors were eventually bowled out for 562 in reply to the 574 for eight declared by the hosts.
Wiaan Mulder then took four wickets to leave the Cobras on 117 for four when the two captains shook hands.
The men from Gauteng had started out the day on 465 for four, and managed just under 100 for the final six wickets.
Van den Bergh was their highest scorer on the day after hitting 60 (190 balls, 6 fours) as Simon Khomari ended as the pick of the bowlers with two for 66 – the away side eventually dismissed in 178.3 overs and trailing by 12.
An excellent burst by Mulder, who claimed four for 25, threatened a late twist after the Cobras were reduced to 55 for four.
But Hamza hit 54 (67 balls, 10 fours) and shared in an unbroken 62-run stand with Aviwe Mgijima (20) to take the hosts to safety and a seventh draw of the season.
Knight, Titans settle for draw in Bloemfontein
Theunis de Bruyn and Keegan Petersen both hit 80s to help the Knights play to a final day draw in their Sunfoil Series clash against the Titans at the Mangaung Oval in Bloemfontein on Sunday.
The hosts faced 60 overs on day four and added 136 for the loss of one wicket to close out the game on 256 for three.
Proteas batsman De Bruyn was the only batsman to fall after a steady 83 (153 balls, 6 fours, 2 sixes).
He put on a 136-run third wicket partnership with Petersen, who went on to end unbeaten on 85 (306 balls, 6 fours).
Captain Rudi Second was with him at the end thanks to his 41 not out from 117 deliveries, while Shaun von Berg finished with three for 95.
The result left the order untouched at the competition summit with the Titans holding on to top spot ahead of the defending champion Knights.