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Milestone for Mbhalati as rain ruins day

Ethy Mbhalati celebrated the most economical bowling figures in the history of Standard Bank Pro20 cricket as the Nashua Dolphins scored a meagre 121 for nine against the Easterns Titans at SuperSport Park in Centurion on Sunday.

The Dolphins, sent in to bat, never seemed keen on the task at hand and, after a false start of one over due to a thundershower, Mbhalati quickly had the wheels falling off with his record spell of 4-1-6-2. Previously, the least number of runs conceded in a four-over spell was eight by Tyron Henderson, Charl Willoughby, Johan van der Wath, Ray Price and Yusuf Abdullah.

Daryn Smit gave the Dolphins a wee bit of hope by scoring an inventive 31 off 17 balls at the death, adding 45 off 19 balls with Quinton Friend (18) for the ninth wicket.

Mbhalati bowled the opening over for two runs and then the rain came down for 40 minutes, before Basheer Walters had the alarm bells ringing four balls into the second over when HD Ackerman (1) drove to cover.

Mbhalati then brought the Dolphins' innings to its knees by dismissing Grant Rowley, driving to mid-off for 15, and Jon Kent, brilliantly caught by Faf du Plessis diving forward and to his right at point, with successive deliveries.

Imraan Khan (5) dragged leg-spinner Imran Tahir into his own stumps as the Dolphins lurched to an ugly 29 for four, before Ahmed Amla and Pierre de Bruyn took the score to 59 for four after 14 overs.

Amla was then bowled by left-arm spinner Roelof van der Merwe, his 27 marred by several dreadful mis-hits, swings-and-misses and a dropped catch on 21 off Pierre Joubert.

The Dolphins were then in a real stew when leg-spinner Du Plessis had De Bruyn caught behind for 16 and bowled Johann Louw first ball with a top-class delivery that pitched outside leg stump and hit off.

Smit, who hit two fours and two sixes, and Friend instituted something of a late rally, but it was overall a rather hideous batting effort by the Dolphins.

Du Plessis finished with two for 33, while Tahir (two for 20 in three overs) and Van der Merwe (two for 28) each took a wicket at the death, but the Dolphins innings had died a long while previously thanks to Mbhalati's ruthless accuracy up front.

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