Last orders for Dolphins

2010-03-25 00:00

THE KZN Dolphins will take the field for the final time in a turbulent season at Kingsmead this morning.

In many respects, today’s clash against the Lions is meaningless, as both sides have no hope of snatching the title and therefore pride is the only prize on the table.

But for some, such as the Dolphins youngsters, who have been handed a big chance to perform on a national stage, today’s final fling marks a real chance to make an impression on Graham Ford ahead of what will be the busiest of off-seasons.

Ford has already indicated that last week’s ten-wicket loss to the Cobras had its silver lining.

“I was pleased to see some of the young guys that we backed coming through in tough situations,” he said after yesterday’s net session.

Certainly, the Dolphins have options when it comes to young batters in the middle order.

The real problem lies in the bowling department, which was dealt a severe blow by the withdrawal of Quinton Friend due to injury.

Without the combative fast bowler, the Dolphins’ bowling stock is distinctly bare.

To add to Ford’s concerns, Kyle Abbott had a scare with a “puffy leg”. But, the beefy all-rounder will take up his spot in today’s starting line-up, much to the relief of Ford.

“We were quite worried about Kyle, so it is a relief that he has been passed fit to play as we really need his energy and ability with the ball,” a worried Ford added.

To aid Abbott, left-arm seamer Mthokozisi Shezi has been drafted, while Inland seamer Kimeshin Chetty retains his place after his debut in Cape Town.

The Kingsmead strip itself is dry, and the temptation to play left-arm orthodox bowler Keshav Maharaj will surely play on Ford’s mind if the sun keeps shining steadily in Durban this morning.

With only Daryn Smit as a viable slow option, the Dolphins may well toil in the heat against a stiff Lions batting unit, in what looks set to be pretty benign batting conditions for the first two days at least.

The return of Hashim Amla is considerably good news for a team that hasn’t had much of that lately, and the Proteas star was in good spirits at yesterday’s practice session.

Amla will be using this match as a tuneup ahead of his five-week stint in county cricket with Nottinghamshire, a move that the classy number three is really excited about.

“Having played in England before, I know the high level of knowledge and love that people have for cricket over there, and I am really looking forward to doing well with Nottingham,” said Amla.

“It has been a while since I was out in the middle, so it could be a bit ugly out there,” he joked.

After the grace he displayed in India, it is certainly no easy feat to imagine an Amla display lacking in artistic flair — and he may yet prove to be the Dolphins’ mainstay over the next four days.

His older brother, Ahmed, has enjoyed a productive season with the bat since being relieved of the captaincy.

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for new Dolphins skipper Imraan Khan, who has not reached last season’s dizzy heights since taking over the reins.

As a unit, the Dolphins will be looking to finish with some sort of momentum.

But, the going will not be easy against a Lions side with a fair sprinkling of Proteas, past and future, who are just as eager to end a mixed campaign on a high note.

 

Teams: Dolphins — Imraan Khan (captain), Bradley Barnes, Hashim Amla, Ahmed Amla, David Miller, Khaya Zondo, Daryn Smit, Jon Kent, Kyle Abbott, Mthokozisi Shezi and Kimeshin Chetty.

Lions: Stephen Cook, Jonathan Vandiar, Alviro Petersen (c), Neil McKenzie, Vaughn van Jaarsveld, Zander de Bruyn, Thami Tsolekile, Ethan O’Reilly, Cliffie Deacon, Robbie Frylinck, Craig Alexander and Tabraiz Shamsi.

 

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