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Keshav Maharaj bowls Dolphins to innings win

File photo - Keshav Maharaj wreaked havoc on Warriors' batting line-up to help Dolphins romp to an innings win BCCI

It took Dolphins just 11.5 overs on the fourth morning to take the remaining three Warriors wickets and seal victory by an innings and 70 runs in East London. Fittingly, it was left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj who took the winning wicket to rack up career-best match figures of 13 for 157.

The win was set up by a solid batting performance from the Dolphins on the first two days. After losing Imraan Khan on the first ball of the match, Dolphins rebounded strongly courtesy good returns from the rest of the top five. While No. 3 Daryn Smit top-scored with 121, he was well supported by Sarel Erwee (59), Vaughn van Jaarsveld (90) and Khaya Zondo (81). But, coming in at No. 9, it was Maharaj who made the difference between a decent first-innings total and a very good one. He struck 72 off 71, sharing a 108-run eighth-wicket partnership with Zondo, to help Dolphins up to a final score of 478.

Then came the bowling heroics. In the first innings, Maharaj took 7 for 89 to spark a collapse from 132 for 1 to 230 all out. Edward Moore (62) and Colin Ackermann (68) scored fifties for the Warriors, but the next highest score was 29 by No. 9 Andrew Birch. Dolphins imposed the follow-on and there was no let-up in Warriors' second innings. Maharaj collected 6 for 68 as the Warriors crumbled to 178 all out, handing the visitors an emphatic victory to start their season.

Lions wrapped up a 10-wicket win against Cobras early on the third day in Johannesburg. Chasing a modest 160, Lions romped to victory, with Test opener Stephen Cook top-scoring with an unbeaten 97.

On a spicy surface, Cobras, having been embroiled in off-field issues over the future of their coach Paul Adams, chose to bat and were quickly skittled for 102. None of their batsmen made more then 29 runs while wickets were shared between Lions' four seamers. Debutant Wiaan Mulder, who will begin his final school examinations shortly, enjoyed the best returns with 3 for 10.

Cobras then hit back by reducing Lions to 99 for 8. Dane Paterson and Vernon Philander made the early inroads but it was another youngster, former Under-19 World Cup squad member Jason Smith, who claimed the biggest haul - 4 for 24. Temba Bavuma, who made an unbeaten 76, with support from Nono Pongolo, ensured the Lions gained a 52-run first-innings advantage.

Cobras were in danger of another embarrassment when they tumbled to 17 for 4 and then 113 for 7, at the hands of Hardus Viljoen and Mulder. Smith showed his value with 95 while Dane Piedt provided some tail wagging and made 41, batting at No.9. Viljoen finished with 6 for 75 as Cobras managed to eke over 200 in their second dig.

It was late on day two that Lions' chase began and they looked to end the match quickly. They faced 18 overs and racked up 117 runs but bad light dragged the match into a third day. None of the Cobras bowlers enjoyed any success as Cook and Rasssie van der Dussen reached the target to give Lions maximum points: 15.08.

Down the road at SuperSport Park, Mark Boucher's coaching career did not get off to the start he would have wanted. Titans suffered a four-wicket defeat at the hands of Nicky Boje's Knights, whose squad had been bolstered by a host of former Titans players.

Marchant de Lange's career-best 7 for 23 gave Knights just 171 to chase. Theunis de Bruyn then stayed unbeaten on 90 and took them to the target.

De Lange did not do the early damage, though. That was down to Duanne Olivier and Mbulelo Budaza, who reduced Titans to 97 for 4 on the first morning. Among the early wickets was Dean Elgar, who was making a comeback after an ankle injury. He scored 33 off 71 balls, including five fours. Heinrich Klaasen and David Wiese shared a sixth-wicket stand of 142 to take Titans to a competitive 287, which was made to look even better when they bowled Knights out for 174.

This meant Titans gained a first-innings lead of 113 runs, but then they slumped. In 14.2 overs on the second afternoon, de Lange and Olivier ran through them. Titans were bowled out for 57 with just three of their batsmen getting into double-figures. Knights closed the day on 41 for 1, with victory in sight.

The third morning brought a thriller as Rowan Richards and Malusi Siboto kept the Knights in check. At 92 for 5, they still needed 79 runs and with a long tail, that was a tough ask. De Bruyn, though, held firm, and found support from Shadley van Schalkwyk, to steer his team home.