It’s now or never for Dolphins this season

2014-11-28 00:00

THERE was more misery for the Dolphins on Wednesday when they went down to the Titans by 19 runs in a Ram Slam T20 Challenge clash in Benoni.

Misery in this being their fifth loss in eight matches and time seeping away for them to make a mark in this year’s competition, having won it last season.

It just seems to have gone horribly wrong for them after hopes were high they would be a respected force after the experience they brought back from the ­Champions League T20 in India.

They did not win a game there, but they looked keen and determined, good ingredients to have in the bag ahead of the ­domestic bash.

But, despite positive talk, team changes and polishing skills in practise, they have never looked threatening, their best ­performance coming early in the competition when they beat the Titans at Kingsmead, earning a bonus point.

There seems to be no pattern to their game. This was evident in the batting ­debacle against the Knights when the Dolphins mustered 82 in less than 20 overs, recovering from 12-5. The only pattern there was the regularity with which batsmen kept walking to and from the crease.

Wanting to go hard from ball one has proven to be the wrong option more than once and this approach is a big reason why the Dolphins languish in fourth on the log, now having to win their last two matches — against the Knights in Kimberley tonight and the Lions in the triple-header in Bloemfontein on Sunday — to ignite any hope of qualifying for a play-off and possible final spot.

The top-order batting has been fallible this time around, with no decent opening partnerships or wickets in hand when the latter overs arrive.

Despite great one-day form, captain Morné van Wyk has battled in the shortest form of the game, as has fellow opener Cameron Delport, dropped for the remaining fixtures after indifferent form.

Too much pressure has been placed on a young middle-order, without matchwinner David Miller, and the gap has been horribly exposed.

The bowlers have tried, but the opposition has more often than not boxed clever and had wickets in hand and batsmen at the crease to flay them around the park.

Tonight’s match against the Knights is as much a mental showdown than a must win scenario. That 82 will still be lingering in the Dolphins’ minds from the last time the two sides met and that could hamper the Durban side’s batting, although they would like to think otherwise.

The Knights, third on the log with 17 points, can pull away from the Dolphins (12 pts) if they win tonight, effectively ending the aspirations of the coastal franchise.

Dolphins middle-order batsman Vaughn van Jaarsveld summed the ­campaign up when he said, “We are still searching for that perfect game and step onto the field for every game, ready to give it our best shot.”

That perfect game was the aforementioned Titans affair and if it can get better than that for the Dolphins, it needs to ­happen quickly.

The same Dolphins squad has been ­selected for tonight’s match, with the international players — Miller, Ryan McLaren and possibly Kyle Abbott — available for Sunday.

Tonight’s match will not be telecast.

Dolphins squad: Morné van Wyk (capt), Jonathan Vandiar, Cody Chetty, Vaughn van Jaarsveld, Dwayne Bravo, Khayelihle Zondo, Robbie Frylinck, Andile Phehlukwayo, Prenelan Subrayen, Keshav Maharaj, Craig Alexander, Chad Bowes, Brandon Scullard and ­Mbasa Gqadushe.

Today’s fixtures

Knights v Dolphins, Kimberley

Warriors v Cobras, Port Elizabeth

Lions v Titans, Potchefstroom.

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