Dolphins face classy Cobras line-up in Pro20 semi-final

2009-02-12 00:00

IT’S crunch time tonight for the Dolphins, who will face a Cobras line-up positively bursting with batting firepower in the first leg of the Standard Bank Pro20 semi-finals.

One of those tasked with throttling the likes of Graeme Smith, JP Duminy and Herschelle Gibbs will be Yusuf Abdullah, the Dolphins’ left arm swing merchant.

Abdullah had a taste of what to expect in last Sunday’s game against the Lions, who had Neil Mckenzie and Vaughn van Jaarsveld in their ranks.

Abdullah weathered that storm, ousting Van Jaarsveld with a snorter first up, before turning his attention to Mckenzie.

The classy Proteas opener creamed two drives for four, but Abdullah held his nerve and snared the prize wicket with a slower ball on his way to figures of 3/23.

“Obviously the Cobras will be a tough game, but we are confident in ourselves,” the soft-spoken Abdullah said as the team left for Cape Town yesterday.

With regard to the big names in the Cobras side, the left-armer said he was looking forward to pitting his wits against the country’s best.

“I think when you are playing against stars, it’s important to not focus on who they are. If you do that, then you are placing additional pressure on yourself and then they will take you apart.”

As the Dolphins’ top striker this season, Abdullah knows he and his fellow bowlers will be key to the team’s plans, but he is relishing tonight’s high stakes.

“We have bowled well as a unit, and we also have a lot of variation so that helps.”

He was quick to point out that they, too, have big guns in their line-up and there has been a buzz at training this week.

“With Sunny [Sanath Jayasuriya] and Hash [Amla] back, we also have stars to watch out for.

“The training this week has been great and I think the whole team can’t wait to get out there.”

Abdullah will likely face off against South African skipper Smith, who has recovered from his broken knuckle. The big left-hander was quoted this week as saying he “has pretty much mended 100%” and he has been practising with the Cobras side since Tuesday.

The sheer volume of potential match winners in both sides makes tonight’s first act of a potential three-legged shootout a must-win.

The Cobras, with home ground advantage and a deeper batting order, will go in as favourites. But this is Pro20 cricket, and whoever blinks first may wake up tomorrow already one down and with a mountain to climb in the last two clashes at Kingsmead.

Play starts at 6.30 pm — live on SuperSport 2 from 6.15 pm.

Dolphins squad: Ahmed Amla (captain), Sanath Jayasuriya, Hashim Amla, Grant Rowley, HD Ackerman, Jon Kent, Pierre de Bruyn, Daryn Smit, Johann Louw, Quinton Friend, Alfonso Thomas, Yusuf Abdulla, Imraan Khan.

Likely Cobras: Graeme Smith (captain), Herschelle Gibbs, JP Duminy, Henry Davids, Justin Ontong, Richard Levi, Ryan Canning, Roger Telemachus, Rory Kleinveldt, Claude Henderson and Charl Langeveldt.

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