Things can’t get worse for Dolphins

2013-11-25 00:00

IF any positives can be gleaned from the Dolphins’ heavy innings and 98-run defeat to the Cobras in their opening Sunfoil Four-Day Series match at Pietermaritzburg Oval, it’s the thought that things cannot get worse as the season progresses.

The Cobras, the defending four-day champions, proved their pedigree in all departments from the opening bell, winning comfortably before lunch on the third day of the clash, taking control from the first ball and never loosening their grip.

For the Dolphins, the only aspect of the game where they came out ahead was calling correctly at the toss, although Cobras skipper Justin Ontong must have been happy to let his counterpart Morné van Wyk make what in essence, was the call that shaped the game.

It was overcast, the strip was brown with little grass and just over three hours later, the Dolphins had been routed for 88.

That was the rope around their necks and it was a matter of when the trapdoor would open and they would hang themselves. There was no way back, there was no way they were going to get close to making a decent game of it and the Cobras showed the pedigree of a champion side by taking the bit between their teeth and never letting go.

A lead of 310, after being dismissed for 398 — Stiaan van Zyl’s undefeated 167 surely getting the national selectors’ attention — was always going to test the Dolphins batsmen and they failed dismally, although they did end the second day (Friday) looking somewhat respectable.

At that stage they were 125-1, Divan van Wyk on 52 and Khaya Zondo on 35. They were still 185 runs adrift, but the pitch looked more conducive to strokeplay after some solid hours under a hot sun. Any smidgen of fight was quickly dispelled on Saturday morning as Cobras left-arm fast medium bowler Beuran Hendriks, obviously keen to head home early, decimated what slight resistance was offered. He bagged Van Wyk with the first ball of the day and added Vaughn van Jaarsveld in the same over.

From 125-1, the Dolphins plummeted to 137-5, Zondo (41) and Morné van Wyk (0) joining the list of casualties. For Van Wyk, his debut four-day match as Dolphins skipper is one best forgotten as he bagged a pair. Ironically, this could be the ideal launch pad he needs to stamp his authority with the bat as the competition moves forward.

Hendriks was magnificent in claiming 6-54 (9-75 in the match) as the Dolphins were finished off in 28 overs. Keshav Maharaj (37*) tried to keep the ship afloat and the best partnership of the innings was 81 for the second wicket between Divan van Wyk and Zondo.

Skipper Van Wyk was to the point after the match, saying, “Facts are facts and we were outplayed in all departments from the word go. There were no big innings or partnership to stabilise our batting and once we were in a mess, we never recovered.

“The Cobras used the conditions well and the bottom line is we will have to pull up our socks in all disciplines if we want to be competitive and earn respect in the competition. It was a horrible defeat and display from us.”

Many people were surprised by his decision to bat first after winning the toss, given the conditions.

“In essence, I was forced into it when seeing the pitch on day one,” he said. “It was dusty and crusty and it looked as though it would never last four days, let alone three. I thought first strike, a decent score and not having to bat last on it would be the way to go, but the stats will tell the sad tale of a gameplan that went horribly wrong.”

The Dolphins took home a meagre three points from the match and will be seeking retribution this Thursday, when they meet the Knights at, alas, Pietermaritzburg Oval.


Dolphins 88 and 212

Cobras 398

Cobras won by an innings and 98 runs.

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