Many positives in four-day match

2015-03-24 00:00

A 178-RUN defeat in a cricket match is considered a fair and square beating, suggesting the victors were ruthless in their quest.

That’s what the Dolphins went down by in their four-day series match at the weekend against the Lions at Kingsmead, but digging below the surface, there are more positives than negatives when analysing the final result.

It gave the Lions their first four-day trophy in 15 seasons and Dolphins captain Morné van Wyk sees that in itself as a lesson to learn.

“Last season the Lions were nowhere in the competition and finished bottom of the table. How they have stood up, taken stock and risen to become champions is an example and a lesson to all of us,” he said.

Heading into the match against the Lions, it was a must-win situation for the Dolphins if they were to have any say in possibly lifting the trophy before heading into this week’s final encounter of the season against the Cobras in Pietermaritzburg.

“We needed to dictate but we never used the conditions well after winning the toss under overcast skies and asking them to bat on day one,” said Van Wyk. “We played an extra seamer and were chasing from the start.”

Always ahead, the Lions forced the Dolphins to play catch up, asking them to score quickly and thereby increase the possibility of getting quick wickets. Looking back, that was the pattern of the game and although the Dolphins tried to make a game of it, the batting fell apart, with no big centuries or partnerships.

“We needed more in our first innings,” said Van Wyk. “In both their innings they had big centuries which held them together — Temba Bavuma (153) in the first and Stephen Cook (143) in the second. Conceding 115 runs to them after the first innings was the death knell.”

However, the Dolphins, despite staggering against the ropes, wanted the match to see out the distance. Although they were set 471 to win in 69 overs, they had a go. While their second innings 292 was way short, their run rate which bordered on five to the over throughout the innings, is testament to their character.

“We had some wickets in the bank at tea and in fact, Cook came to me and asked if we should shake hands on it and call it a draw,” said Van Wyk. “I said we could still have a go and in hindsight, it went down to the wire, Daryn Dupavillon the final wicket off the first ball of the final over. It can’t get better than that.”

It speaks volumes for the spirit of the team to take the match right to the end. It’s other skills that need work ahead of next season.

“All season our batsmen have been struggling to make massive hundreds, Divan’s [Van Wyk] 171 against the Knights two matches back by far our best individual effort in the competition,” said Van Wyk. “Big batting means big partnerships and we have struggled with that all season.”

As for the bowlers, Van Wyk took his hat off to them as they charged in day after day for the past five weeks with one match still to play.

“I am proud of them. They have bowled with heart and conviction, never giving less than their best and more at times,” he said.

As for this week’s game, it’s still important to the Dolphins.

“We want to consolidate our second spot. It’s one better than last year and we will keep our foot on the gas, despite playing in Pietermaritzburg where we are never quite sure what the pitch will offer us,” he said.

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