Stiaan van Zyl struck an aggressive half-century to propel the Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras to 128-3 at stumps after they had bowled the Sunfoil Dolphins out for a paltry 88 on the first day of their Sunfoil Series match at the Pietermaritzburg Oval on Thursday.
Van Zyl smashed his way to an impressive 63 not out off just 75 balls with 11 fours before bad light forced an early halt to play with 10.5 overs left unbowled in the day.
Van Zyl shared in a third-wicket stand of 68 with Justin Ontong (23) after the early loss of Andrew Puttick (11) and Omphile Ramela (19) before Ontong was dismissed by left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj shortly before the close of play.
The impressive Van Zyl went past 5 000 first-class career runs during his knock as the Cobras ended the day holding a 40-run lead, while Yaseen Vallie was unbeaten on nought.
The Cobras had earlier turned in a fine bowling performance with left-arm quick Beuran Hendricks (3-21), seamer Rory Kleinveldt (3-15) and offspinner Dane Piedt (3-41) chiefly responsible for the Dolphins’ limp first-innings effort with Vaughn van Jaarsveld, who contributed a patient 39 off 120 balls, the only batsman to cause the visitors some trouble.
The Dolphins packed their team with three front-line spinners on a pitch which was expected to provide plenty of turn from early on in the fixture but it was Hendricks who was responsible for the early damage.
Divan van Wyk (0) was out early, bowled by Hendricks, before Khaya Zondo (12) was out caught and bowled by Kleinveldt when the batsman sent a leading edge back to the bowler who completed a caught-and-bowled effort.
Left-hand opening batsman Imraan Khan (11) was the next man dismissed, leg-before to Hendricks as the Dolphins stumbled to 32-3.
Cody Chetty (2) and Van Jaarsveld took the score to 57 before Piedt, who was bowling as early as the 11th over, had Chetty caught at leg slip.
Morne van Wyk (0) was dismissed by Piedt before the Dolphins could add to their score.
Daryn Smit (1) and Van Jaarsveld took the hosts to the brink of lunch but 10 minutes before the break Smit (1) was bowled by medium-pacer Justin Kemp as the Dolphins plunged to 58-6.
Matters did not improve for the hosts after the lunch break and they lost their last four wickets for the addition of just 12 runs.
Maharaj (4) was out leg-before to Kleinveldt before the same bowler had Kyle Abbott (0) caught behind by keeper Dane Vilas.
Prenelan Subrayen (0) was out leg-before to Piedt before Van Jaarsveld was the last man out, bowled by Hendricks, with the Dolphins all out 45 minutes after lunch.
SUNFOIL DOLPHINS: Imraan Khan, Divan van Wyk, Khaya Zondo, Vaughn van Jaarsveld, Cody Chetty, Morne van Wyk (capt, wk), Daryn Smit, Kyle Abbott, Prenelan Subrayen, Graham Onions, Keshav Maharaj.
NASHUA MOBILE CAPE COBRAS: Andrew Puttick, Omphela Ramela, Stiaan van Zyl, Mohammed Vallie, Justin Ontong (capt), Justin Kemp, Dane Vilas (wk), Rory Kleinveldt, Beuran Hendricks, Dane Piedt, Siya Simetu.