Encouraging day for the underdogs

2008-09-23 00:00

THE Dolphins line-up resumes this morning on 16 for two in reply to the Inland/Coastal combination’s 290 for nine after day one of the three-day match at the Maritzburg Oval yesterday.

Inland/Coastal captain Ross McMillan won the toss and it was no surprise that he chose to bat in the heat, with the temperature in the mid-to-late 30s at its height.

The pitch had decent pace and carry, so there was something in it for batsmen and bowlers, which made for an even contest.

Inland/Coastal paceman Olly Humphries tilted the advantage in the late afternoon with a devastating opening over that harvested two consecutive wickets. This was in contrast to the earlier cricket, when willow just about held sway over leather.

Against a Dolphins attack that hit good areas, no Inland/Coastal batsman really got in, hence the number of hard-grafting 30s and 40s. It was therefore a fine effort to reach 290 in the allocated first-innings 85 overs.

Mbasa Gqadushe, so often a frustrating batsman as reckless shot selection proved his downfall so many times in the past, was prepared to knuckle down and the results were there in his unbeaten 71 (104b, 11x4, 1x6) coming in at seven.

And while a century or two from the top order would have ensured a total over the 350 mark, it was an encouraging sign at this early stage of the season that five of the Inland/Coastal batsmen spent a collective nine hours at the crease against quality bowlers and were prepared to ride their luck when things got tough.

Among the Dolphins attack, everyone pulled their weight in a workmanlike effort under testing conditions. Opening bowler Quinton Friend built up a good head of steam and one or two that whistled past Inland/Coastal opening batsman Clint Bowyer’s right ear apparently made his eyes water.

With no rain forecast for today and tomorrow and temperatures predicted to be in the mid-20s, conditions are ideal for all the players to get in some productive time out in the middle. At the same time, the quality of cricket on offer — if day one was anything to go by — makes a trip down to the picturesque PMB Oval a worthwhile exercise for the family, but bring your own picnic basket as a “practice” match of this nature doesn’t warrant catering for the public.

Meanwhile, South Africa Test batsman Hashim Amla, who is sitting out this match, will be back for the Dolphins’ opening match of the season, a SuperSport Series encounter with the Titans at Kingsmead in a weeks’ time. KZN Dolphins manager of playing affairs and convenor of selectors Jay Naidoo confirmed the news to The Witness on Monday.

And just to refresh memories, the KZN Dolphins squad of 16 (not including SA-contracted Hashim Amla) for the season is Yusuf Abdullah, HD Ackerman, Ahmed Amla (capt), Pierre de Bruyn, Quinton Friend, Ugasen Govender, Jon Kent, Imraan Khan, Johann Louw, Saidi Mhlongo, Daryn Smit, Alfonso Thomas, Morné van Vuuren, Rivash Gobind, David Miller (rookie) and Bradley Barnes (rookie).

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