With the Dolphins starting the day on 27 for three, having been set 430 for victory. which would have been the highest fourth-innings total in the competition’s history, the Titans were undeniably favourites to start their four-day campaign with a win.
But Zondo, who batted for more than four-and-a-half hours and faced 210 balls in scoring 102 not out, led the resistance with his epic unbeaten century as the Dolphins closed on 311 for seven.
It was a magnificent rearguard action by the Dolphins, who had to see off a Titans attack that spared no effort and was spearheaded by a fired up Morné Morkel, who showed he is in good shape for next week’s Test match as he claimed three wickets and conceded an economic 44 runs in his 20 overs.
Vaughn van Jaarsveld set the tone for the Dolphins in the morning as he batted with his trademark power to collect nine fours and a six in his 68, with the visitors losing just a single wicket before lunch as Cody Chetty (22) wafted at Morkel outside off stump and was caught behind.
The trouble really hit the fan for the Dolphins 50 minutes after lunch when left-arm strike bowler Rowan Richards removed Van Jaarsveld and Morne van Wyk (5) in successive overs.
Richards had battled for consistency, but then out of the blue produced the sort of delivery that explains why the coach is always a fan of his: Van Jaarsveld, who was well set after more than 200 minutes at the crease, was undone by a brute of a bouncer, which he tried to hook but could only splice back towards the bowler. Richards dived in vain to try and take the return catch, but meanwhile the off-balance batsman had fallen over into his own stumps and was dismissed hit wicket.
Van Wyk then swung at a short ball rather loosely and was caught by Morkel at fine leg for five, leaving the Dolphins on 162 for six, with a session-and-a-half remaining.
But Zondo and Andile Phehlukwayo were clearly on top of their games and showed that the Dolphins can rely on them, the captain and the up-and-coming Proteas star, for the big performance. The pair added 119 for the seventh wicket, staying together for nearly three hours in which they faced 262 deliveries, and the Titans were just about on their last legs when Alfred Mothoa had Phehlukwayo caught behind, miscuing a ball high down the leg-side, for a tremendous 62 off 132 balls, which showed he has the tenacity to go with his talent.
With only seven overs left in the match, the teams played on to allow Zondo to reach a well-deserved sixth Sunfoil Series century, helped by the pitch surprisingly not deteriorating and staying on its best behaviour right to the end.