Dolphins are blown away

2009-02-15 00:00

THE KZN Dolphins’ infuriating ability to blow hot and cold was in evidence again this weekend, as they were brilliant in Cape Town and abysmal yesterday in the second leg of the Pro20 semi-finals against the Cape Cobras.

Where their fielding and bowling was sharp and accurate on Friday night, they dropped catches and leaked singles yesterday.

The 38-run loss by virtue of the Duckworh/Lewis method means the Dolphins now have it all to do in Wednesday’s decisive third leg.

The Cobras, by contrast, hit their straps. It was always unlikely that a batting line-up packed with Proteas would fail twice, and it was Herschelle Gibbs who did the damage.

The Protea’s opener started curiously, with the haste of a man with a plane to catch, but once he settled he flayed the home attack all over Kingsmead in an innings that oozed quality.

His opening partner, Graeme Smith, was dropped on 6 by Yusuf Abdulla and from there the Dolphins never really recovered their composure.

Smith struck the next two balls he faced from Johan Louw for fours, and suddenly the Cobras were well set for a mammoth target.

Gibbs (92 off 57 balls) deserved a century for his controlled brilliance, and he received handy support from Smith (33), Justin Ontong who scored a busy 32, and Vernon Philander chipped in with a brisk 21.

The Dolphins attack, so often the key this season, had an off day. Each bowler conceded at least one big over, as the Cobras racked up the highest ever Pro20 total at Kingsmead, 192/4.

If the Dolphins were to have any chance, Sanath Jayasuriya needed to fire. But the experienced international lost his head, and his wicket, when he tried to launch his very first ball faced to the neighbouring Kings Park.

That shot summed up the Dolphins performance; confused and at times desperate.

HD Ackerman and Grant Rowley followed soon after, both to the innocuous Roger Telemachus.

Hashim Amla briefly threatened, but he was snapped up brilliantly by Gibbs as he tried to hoist Claude Henderson over long-on.

By the time the threatening rain came, the Dolphins were 59 for 5 after nine overs, miles behind the required rate.

There will surely be some soul searching ahead of Wednesday, a match which is the biggest one of the season for Ahmed Amla’s men.

Win, and they go to the Champions Trophy where their mere arrival will guarantee each player R250 000. In today’s financial climate, that is surely more than enough reason to get fired up.

Meanwhile, the second leg between the Warriors and the Eagles in Port Elizabeth was rained out yesterday, and will be played again today. If there is no result, the Eagles will go through by virtue of their win in the first leg last week.

This week is lining up to be an organisational nightmare for Cricket South Africa (CSA). The decision to schedule three-part semi-finals, and then a final two days later, left little room for the intervention of bad weather.

As things stand, if Wednesday’s game between the Dolphins and the Cobras is rained out, they will have to play on Thursday, the designated reserve day.

That would mean the venue for the Pro20 final on Friday would not be decided until perhaps 9 pm the night before, providing a real headache for broadcasters, fans and not least the players.

To add further confusion to this curious fixture list is the arrival of Ricky Ponting’s squad today.

They are set to play against an SA “A” side in a four-day match, which is due to start on Friday too. With the bulk of the “A” side likely to come from the sides still in the Pro20, one wonders what will take preference.

Will CSA summon several stars to play in Potchefstroom, or will they snub Ponting and company and let them play against a half-baked side ahead of next week’s Test series?

It could yet be quite a week in South African cricket.

Cobras innings

G.Smith c A.Amla b Louw 33

H.Gibbs b Thomas 92

JP Duminy b Abdulla 0

J.Ontong b Thomas 32

V.Philander not out 21

H.Davids not out 5

Extras 8

Total 191

Fall of wickets: 66-1,67-2,141-3,182-4

Bowling: Abdulla 4-0-27-1(1w),Friend 4-0-41-0(1w),Louw 4-0-36-1, Jayasuriya 3-0-29-0(2w), Thomas 3-0-28-2, Smit 1-0-7-0,Kent 1-0-20-0(1W)

Dolphins innings

HD Ackerman c Davids b Telemachus 16

S.Jayasuriya c Philander b Kleinveldt 0

H.Amla c Gibbs b Henderson 23

G.Rowley c Gibbs b Telemachus 1

A.Amla not out 8

J.Kent c Ontong b Henderson 10

D.Smit not out 1

Extras 0

Total 59

Fall of wickets: 5-1,38-2,40-3,40-4,57-5

Bowling: Kleinveldt 2-0-17-1, Langeveldt 2-0-7-0, Philander 1-0-14-0, Telemachus 2-0-8-2, Henderson 2-0-13-2

Result: The Nashua Cape Cobras won by 38 runs on the Duckworth Lewis method.

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