Newlands win vital for Dolphins

2007-12-13 00:00

WITH the Free State/Griquas Eagles 6.28 points ahead of the second-placed KZN Dolphins on the SuperSport Series log, today’s match against the Western Cape Cobras is critically important for coach Yashin Ebrahim’s Durban-based side.

The rain-ruined match against the Highveld Lions at Kingsmead last time out did not do the Dolphins any favours and they need to put that one behind them and kick on to an emphatic victory at Newlands.

However, the Cape Town match also provides another platform for Cobras fast bowler Monde Zondeki (36 wickets) to advance his claims for a return to the national squad for next year’s tours at least.

The former SA paceman picked up 10 wickets in the match won by the Dolphins in Pietermaritzburg a fortnight ago and he will fancy his chances against the Durban-based team’s top order. Zondeki will need pressure to be applied from the other end, and this is where Tyron Henderson, Charl Langeveldt and Rory Kleinveldt must come to the party.

Cobras opening batsman Andrew Puttick (557 runs at 50.63 including two hundreds) will be a key wicket for the Dolphins, while Henry Davids, Stiaan van Zyl and Ashwell Prince have also been among the runs. Then there is mercurial Cobras captain Justin Kemp, who is overdue for a big innings. Wicketkeeper/batsman Ryan Canning will be hoping to cement his place in the side, having taken over from former Cobras captain Thami Tsolekile last week. Many observers feel Canning is by far the better keeper than the man who ousted Mark Boucher in the Test team for a short while. Con de Lange is another useful performer, opening the batting and plugging one end with his left-arm spin.

However, Cobras coach Shukri Conrad is not particularly happy with his win-starved side — in six outings they have managed only four draws to go with two losses. With a slender 0.06 points ahead of the last-placed Lions, both captain and coach are feeling the pressure. This is an area that the in-form Dolphins quick bowlers can exploit. As in Pietermartizburg, the recipe is to strangle the Cobras batters into playing false shots.

One area the Dolphins must improve, though, is their shaky top-order batting, which hasn’t yielded a total in excess of 200 since five innings ago. That is not the form of a championship-winning side.

TEAMS

Cobras (from): Andrew Puttick, Con de Lange, Henry Davids, Ashwell Prince, Justin Kemp, Stiaan van Zyl, Ryan Canning, Rory Kleinveldt, Dominic Telo, Monde Zondeki, Charl Langeveldt, Alastair Gray, Pepler Sandri.

Dolphins (from): Doug Watson, Imraan Khan, Hashim Amla, Ahmed Amla, Wayne Madsen, Jonathan Vandiar, Johann Louw, Liam Plunkett, Daryn Smit, Quinton Friend, Yusuf Abdullah, Ross McMillan, Rivash Gobind.

Log: Eagles 71.16 points; Dolphins 64.88; East Cape Warriors 46.90; North-East Titans 42.98; Cobras 35.18; Lions 35.12.

Other matches: Lions vs Eagles; Titans vs Warriors.

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