Dolphins unchanged for Pro20 decider

2008-04-22 00:00

JONATHAN COOK

THE selectors have shown faith in the KZN Dolphins by naming an unchanged squad for the Pro20 final against the North-East Titans at Kingsmead on Friday evening.

Enjoying a phenomenal five successive Pro20 victories, the Dolphins will be going all out to claim the R500 000 winners cheque on Friday, while as Pro20 finalists a berth in the “World Pro20 Champions League” to take place in India later this year is already assured — and the possibility of the R2 million top prize.

After two losses in their opening games, it looked like another dismal Pro20 year for the Dolphins, but it is remarkable how things have turned around. Put into context, the five wins on the trot are as many as the wins the Dolphins achieved in their previous 21 matches. The Dolphins finished last in 2006/07 with one win.

Just 13 days ago, the Dolphins showed enviable strength of character to beat the Titans by 38 runs at Kingsmead, despite the most unbelievable goings-on in the 24 hours before that.

The team was released to the media a day before the match and included Jon Kent and Jonathan Vandiar. Then Kent was suspended for showing dissent in a previous match, but the worst (or best) was yet to come.

Dolphins selection chief Jay Naidoo told The Witness, on the morning of the match, that he was not aware Vandiar was on a plane to Johannesburg for contract talks with Lions CEO Alan Kourie as he spoke.

Dolphins CEO Cassim Docrat said he was not surprised but would not expand.

Dolphins captain Ahmed Amla registered his disappointment as Vandiar was to open the batting that evening. Docrat and Amla wished Vandiar well.

By naming Vandiar to open, the Dolphins hierarchy were clearly not aware of his plans, but they have survived the drama, not least because of the team’s surprising purple patch. And, in spite of Doug Watson’s limited-overs record as the top Dolphins batsman since franchise cricket began, the selectors saw fit to drop him for the semi-final. Still it panned out well for the brains trust.

Since then, though, Titans national stars AB de Villiers, Morné Morkel and Dale Steyn have returned, but the Dolphins are now swimming with confidence and proved it with their semi-final win over the Eagles in front of over 11 000 spectators last Friday, following their 10-wicket thrashing by the same team in the league phase.

Dolphins : Imraan Khan, Grant Rowley, Hashim Amla, Ahmed Amla (capt), Jon Kent, Pierre de Bruyn, Daryn Smit, Morne van Vuuren, Johann Louw, Alfonso Thomas, Yusuf Abdullah, Saidi Mhlongo, David Miller.

Titans (likely): Gulam Bodi, Faf du Plessis, Roelof van der Merwe, AB de Villiers, Albie Morkel, Farhaan Behardien, Pierre Joubert, Morne Morkel, Aaron Phangiso, Dale Steyn, E Mbhalati.

Umpires: Brian Jerling, Karl Hurter. TV umpire: Shaun George. Match referee: Devdas Govindjee.

Start: 6 pm, gates open 3.30 pm.

TV: CSN and SS2 from 5.30 pm

* Tickets on sale now from Computicket: www.computicket.com and the Kingsmead ticket office.

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