So near and yet so far for KZN Dolphins in draw with Warriors

2010-10-11 00:00

IT was a desperate case of so close, yet so far for the KZN Dolphins yesterday as the Warriors’ tail denied them a win in the SuperSport Series by a lone wicket.

Makhaya Ntini and Basheer Walters were offered respite just after 5 pm in the rapidly fading light, and the Dolphins were left to consider what could have been.

That the Dolphins were still in with a sniff that late in the piece was down to leg-spin wizard Imran Tahir’s nine-wicket haul.

Coach Graham Ford is adamant that Tahir will be lost to Proteas duty if he continues in this vein.

“The guys are very disappointed with the draw right now, but this bunch has come a long way since the winter,” said a downcast Ford.

“But I am proud at a lot of things from this game. The way we batted on day one, the way we bowled on Saturday to give ourselves a chance. And also the way we fought right to the end — the guys got so close,” he lamented.

Crucially, the Dolphins did spill their chances. Warriors skipper Ashwell Prince (123) notched a 30th first-class century, but the Protea ace admitted that he had his fair slice of fortune.

Dropped three times before he reached 50 — to chances that ought to be taken at this level — Prince got better and better as his innings grew, and he reached three figures with a six over mid-wicket, as he took the match away from the home side.

The Dolphins’ challenge was based around an excellent effort on Saturday, when Quinton Friend led the attack tremendously in helpful conditions.

The Warriors, two for two overnight, were rolled over for 156 as Friend (four for 42) provided the fire, and Tahir (four for 27) wrapped it all up to enforce the follow-on.

The Warriors then had a day to save the match, and they just about managed it.

Prince, who looked like he had let the Dolphins back in when he was out trying to reverse-sweep Tahir, said he is proud of his side.

“We only got two points out of the match, but we are happy with the result and a number of our youngsters got good experience,” he added.

The Dolphins, looking dead and buried as the Warriors moved from 98 for three to beyond 200, will look back cursing on the fact that 80 overs were lost due to bad weather.

As it was, all they wanted was a few more overs at Ntini and the obdurate Walters.

When Prince and Andrew Birch fell, there were still 15 overs left in the day’s play.

But Lyall Meyer and Walters stuck at it, and though Meyer fell to an inside edge off Tahir, Ntini negotiated the knee-knocking last few minutes to deny the Dolphins.

Kevin Pietersen, supposedly here to find his form, spent over 150 overs in the field, but he was just as keen to get the Dolphins over the edge.

So keen, in fact, that he almost stole the headlines, going for an unlikely catch and landing heavily on his shoulder.

The Dolphins, despite their near-miss, added that it made a welcome change to play in front of a crowd that kept them going.

It may have been a few hundred over the entire weekend, but by SuperSport Series standards, it was almost a record.

And it almost got them home.

SCOREBOARD

Dolphins 1st Innings 500-6 dec

Warriors 1st Innings 156 (overnight)

Warriors 2nd Innings (follow-on)

J Smuts lbw b Kent 10

B Bennett lbw b Tahir 56

M Smith lbw b Abbott 0

A Prince lbw b Imran Tahir 123

A Jacobs b Shezi 52

J Kreusch lbw b Tahir 3

C Thyssen c Khan b Friend 15

L Meyer c Smit b Tahir 17

A Birch lbw b Tahir 0

B Walters not out 8

M Ntini not out 0

Extras (11b, 2lb, 2w) 15

TOTAL (for 9 wickets) 303

Overs: 102.4 overs

Fall of wickets: 1-21, 2-22, 3-98, 4-233, 5-244, 6-265, 7-269, 8-273, 9-298.

Bowling: Friend 21-5-50-0, Abbott 19-7-42-1, Kent 11-2-21-1, Tahir 39-7-126-5, Shezi 8-2-29-1, Khan 4.4-0-22-0. [Match drawn]

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