Do-or-die time for KZN Dolphins

2010-12-03 00:00

THE KZN Dolphins were dealt a late blow yesterday, when Cricket South Africa deemed Hashim Amla still not fit enough to take part in this afternoon’s crucial MTN40 second-leg semi-final against the Chevrolet Knights.

Amla’s absence will again shine the spotlight on a top-order that is desperately missing the explosive Loots Bosman, who is still out with a broken hand.

It is somewhat ironic that the Dolphins are suddenly struggling at the top of the order, as this was the one area that was flourishing during the round-robin stages.

Bosman’s injury has definitely thrown the batting side of things off-tune, and coach Graham Ford must be quietly cursing his luck.

The experiment of having Ahmed Amla at the top of the order has not worked out too well.

Simply put, the veteran middle- order man is not suited to the bashing game upfront, and the Dolphins would do well to look elsewhere within the squad for options.

The question, of course, is where?

The middle-order is crammed full of destructive hitters when the ball is old and not swinging, but going after a brand new ball is another game altogether.

They also cannot afford to go at a serene pace at the top of the innings, as this only piles on the pressure to make big runs in the latter stages.

They fell into this trap somewhat in the first leg on a slow-ish pitch, but they cannot afford to do that tonight.

David Miller looked in good nick last week, but the pressure of having to finish with a flourish proved too much.

He will need a hand from the likes of Vaughn van Jaarsveld and Glen Addicott tonight.

The Knights themselves looked a refreshed unit last Sunday, and the bowling of Ryan McLaren played a pivotal role for the Free Staters.

His bowling at the death was virtually un-hittable, and the Dolphins will have to come up with plans to ensure that he doesn’t settle into a groove again.

The same applies for the dangerous hitters in the Knights’ batting line-up.

Obus Pienaar took everyone by surprise with his blitz off Kyle Abbott, but the destructive power of Johan van der Wath is well-known in local circles.

The Dolphins committed the cardinal sin of bowling right into their hitting areas last week, and the result was carnage.

Ford said the loss of key all-rounder Ravi Bopara was a crippling blow for the Dolphins, but the need for back-up is obviously there.

The Dolphins have used their spinners intelligently, indeed aggressively.

They will be hoping Imran Tahir is inspired by another decent home crowd tonight.

The entertaining leg-spinner is still in limbo with regards to his availability for the Proteas.

Everyone, from CSA to Kingsmead, is keeping mum on the matter, but it is increasingly resembling the Beast Mtawarira saga.

The Dolphins, with a must-win match on their hands, will happily keep him to themselves for as long as they are allowed.

Ford said earlier this week the mood in the camp was still upbeat, because the side knew that they had controlled the first leg for long periods.

What they need tonight is a repeat of the last time they hosted the Knights, when they triumphed by 67 runs when defending a modest total.

If they want to maintain their interest in this competition — and force a third leg on Sunday — they will have to make some bold decisions.

There is precious little choice in the matter. It is simply do or die tonight.

 

Squad: Imraan Khan (captain), Ravi Bopara, Ahmed Amla, Daryn Smit, Glen Addicott, Vaughn van Jaarsveld, Kyle Abbott, Quinton Friend, Imran Tahir, Jon Kent, Mthokozisi Shezi, Keshav Maharaj,David Miller, Devon Conway and Khaya Zondo.

 

TV TIMES: Supersport 2 from 3.45 pm.

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