Looking to apply pressure

2008-10-16 00:00

“WE are playing very good cricket,” was how KZN Dolphins coach Yashin Ebrahim described day one of the SuperSport Series match against the Western Cape Cobras at a hot Boland Bank Park in Paarl yesterday.

At the close of a full day’s play, the Dolphins were on 265 for five, captain Ahmed Amla having won the toss and opted to bat, “a good toss to win”, said his coach.

It could have ended fittingly for the Dolphins, said Ebrahim, had HD Ackerman (70, three hours, 113 balls, nine fours) not succumbed to an inswinging full delivery off the first ball of the last over from 33-year-old Cobras fast-medium opening bowler Charl Langeveldt.

After what the Dolphins coach said was an “excellent 90-run opening partnership” between Imraan Khan (47, 114b, 6x4)) and Rivash Gobind (45, 120b, 6x4) who “played well”, the Dolphins descended to a somewhat nervy 137 for four. It took the experienced middle-order batting skills of Ackerman and Jon Kent (59 not out, 111b, 6x4) to right the Dolphins ship in the day’s chief partnership.

“It was a superb partnership,” Ebrahim told The Witness. The pair put on 128 for the fifth wicket in just under 40 overs.

“Charl Langeveldt, who was still swinging the ball in the last over, bowled brilliantly,” said Ebrahim. “The partnership was high-quality stuff as the guys had to absorb a lot of pressure.”

Ebrahim said Ackerman (35) and Kent (29), who share over 270 first-class matches between them, picked their moments when to attack with a display of precise shot selection in a stand 12 minutes short of three hours.

Up front, the on-song Khan had his moments of good fortune. When on two, the former SA U19 captain survived what his coach described as a “difficult” chance to Rory Kleinveldt at short midwicket. “The second one [when Imraan was on 32] was a regulation catch to Herschelle Gibbs” at a fourth slip/gully position.

And the unlucky bowler in both cases was Langeveldt, whose relentless probing — with the inswinging yorker as usual his favourite weapon — brought him 3-61 from 24.1 hot and sweaty overs.

The six-Test, 59 ODI former prison warder from Stellenbosch, who also plies his new trade with Derbyshire, received modest support from fellow seamers Rory Kleinveldt, Vernon Philander and Pepler Sandri. The 36-year-old former SA left-arm spinner Claude Henderson — the pioneering SA Kolpak cricketer four years ago — had Khan caught at first slip, while Cobras captain and top fielder Justin Ontong ran out Gobind.

Dolphins coach Ebrahim said left-arm seamer Saidi Mlongo was brought in for Ugasen Govender as “he bowls well to left-handers [Andrew Puttick, JP Duminy] and on a pitch that is fairly up-and-down ‘Sailor’ is preferred as he can do a containing job, while Ugasen is more attacking”.

Looking at day two, Ebrahim said “we are looking for 400-plus and, being guaranteed not to bat last, we can hopefully apply the pressure”.

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