Dolphins’ batsmen in search of Pro20 form

2009-02-05 00:00

THE KZN Dolphins may already be in the Standard Bank Pro20 semi-finals, but there is still much riding on Sunday’s final round- robin tie against the Lions at Kingsmead.

For one thing, a home semi is not quite sealed yet, with both the Warriors and the Eagles in with a chance of pipping the KZN side to that honour in the final weekend.

If both those sides win their fixtures tonight, they will leapfrog the Dolphins at the head of the table. The KZN side’s meeting on Sunday will then be a battle for top spot and home advantage in the semis and the final.

For the Dolphins, the equation is simple. Win on Sunday and a home semi is confirmed, and they will be a step closer to the Champions Trophy in September.

Of course, the stakes of the 20- over hit-out have been raised with the return of Proteas players to the franchise teams. Some have benefited more than others, with the Warriors and the Cobras each able to summon at least three national players for the semis.

“It’s great that the national players are back as it raises the profile of the competition and will also raise the standard on the field,” Dolphins’ coach Yashin Ebrahim said yesterday.

The Dolphins have Hashim Amla, and Ebrahim will be looking for the elegant top order player to continue where he left off in Australia, with scores of 82 not out and 97.

Batting has been the Dolphins’ biggest problem in the competition, and Ebrahim admitted as much. “We have put ourselves under pressure because when we lose wickets, we have lost them in clusters. This has made it hard for our hitters at the end to have a real go as they are already under pressure,” he said.

Ebrahim also pointed to the matches against the Titans and the Warriors, where the Dolphins had first strike on sporty wickets. “Those tracks did a bit, and scoring 120-odd was tough because those sides also bowled very well.”

The Dolphins’ brains trust are yet to decide where Amla will bat on Sunday. The opening partnership of Grant Rowley and HD Ackerman has worked reasonably well, particularly in Bloemfontein, but Amla as an opener played with great success in Australia. Though he is weary, he is in fine form and the Dolphins will be looking to get the most out of him.

He will be joined next week by Sanath Jayasuriya, who showed glimpses of form in a whirlwhind 27 for Sri Lanka against India yesterday. The two internationals will raise the Dolphins’ hopes no end, but Ebrahim will surely find more comfort in a team performance on Sunday.

Cameos have littered the Dolphins’ season thus far, and a thorough team display will be just the tonic needed ahead of the knockout stages.

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