Dolphins in the mix for playoff spot chase

2015-02-04 00:00

AS the business end of the domestic One-Day Cup competition rolls around, there is much to play for, the most crucial aspect being the two teams qualifying for the playoff for a final spot.

Looking at the standings after the past weekend’s matches — which saw the Dolphins lose in Port Elizabeth to the Warriors and share the points with the Knights in a rained-out match in Pietermaritzburg — nothing is signed and sealed just yet.

Perhaps a strong bet would be the Cobras, currently top of the log with 29 points, guaranteed a top-three finish. A win on Friday in their last match against the Dolphins in Cape Town would see them stay at the top of the pile, secure a home final and allow them to put their feet up while the other sides fight for a trip to the Mother City.

Winning against the Lions on Sunday has seen the Titans move into second on 21 points, three ahead of the Dolphins in third on 18 points.

This guarantees the Pretoria franchise a playoff spot as they have a six-point lead over the fourth-placed Lions and fifth-placed Knights, both sides with only one match remaining.

In essence, the carrot is dangling for the Dolphins, who round off their campaign against the Titans at Kingsmead on Sunday, after Friday’s meeting with the Cobras.

A win in both matches will see them end on 27 points, which will easily secure a playoff spot. If the Titans win their last two matches, they will be on 29 points. However, the Dolphins must win at least one of their two remaining matches to feel safe and their best option will be at Kingsmead on Sunday, where they have had the better of the Titans in all formats of the game in recent meetings.

A real spanner in the works concerns the Warriors. They have three matches remaining, squeezing them into five days. If they win all three, the 12 points on offer will see them end on 20 points and a slim chance of eliminating the Dolphins if the Dolphins lose their last two games.

It sounds complicated but to make it simple it’s like this: whoever finishes top of the log is guaranteed a spot in the final on home ground. Therefore, the fight for second and third place once the dust has settled is vitally important. Whoever finishes second, has home-ground advantage in a once-off eliminator match against the third-placed side. The winner meets the already determined finalist.

A glance at the log will give all the various possibilities, bearing in mind it’s four points for a win and two apiece if the match is abandoned or called off.

Unless the Dolphins falter badly, there is little chance for the Lions and Knights to qualify and with the tall order facing the Warriors, it looks like the Dolphins and Titans will battle for a spot in the final against the Cobras.

The playoff is scheduled for next Tuesday (February 10), starting at 3 pm. Wednesday (February 11) is a reserve day and the final is penned for Friday, February 13, with the following day a reserve day.

Remaining One-Day Cup Fixtures

Today: Knights v Warriors, Kimberley

Friday: Feb 6 - Cobras v Dolphins, Newlands; Titans v Warriors, Centurion

Sunday: Feb 8 - Warriors v Lions, East London; Dolphins v Titans, Kingsmead

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