Extra day challenge

2016-03-31 06:00
Seen here in action for the Dolphins earlier this season, all-rounder Kyle Nipper has enjoyed a spectacular Sunfoil 3-Day Cup campaign for KwaZulu-Natal Inland. PHOTO: gallo images

Seen here in action for the Dolphins earlier this season, all-rounder Kyle Nipper has enjoyed a spectacular Sunfoil 3-Day Cup campaign for KwaZulu-Natal Inland. PHOTO: gallo images

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THE final of the Sunfoil 3-Day Cup, which features KwaZulu-Natal Inland against Western Province in Cape Town from March 31 to April 3, is, ironically, a four-day game.

After topping Pool B to earn their place in the title-decider, the Inland team will need to slightly alter their approach when they tackle Province at the Western Province Cricket Club, coach Shane Burger told the media at practice on Tuesday.

“Tactically, it does change, because four-day cricket is quite different to three-day cricket. Many people might think that one day won’t make much of a difference, but I think your tactics do change.

“Your batsmen don’t have the pressure of having to score too quickly, as they do in a three-day game, where you’re trying to push for a result. In a four-day game you have that extra day and you can afford to bat that little bit longer and score a higher total to put pressure on a team.

“From a bowling point of view, I think we bowl our normal attacking line and lengths, as we have done all season. You have to take your half-chances, so that one day doesn’t turn into two days.”

Inland sealed their place in the final with a must-win victory over Boland in Paarl to edge ahead of Eastern Province at the top of the log. That match provided his charges with more than just a win, Burger said: “Let’s not mistake how much pressure was on us in that game. We saw it as a semi-final, so I think the guys came through that with flying colours and handled the pressure well. It was a very inexperienced team who handled pressure well. We’ll take that with us into the final. That’s the one thing we learnt from our last game.”

Something else Inland will have for the final is the return of all-rounder Kyle Nipper from injury. He sat out the match against Boland but is fit and raring to go. That’s a massive boost, with Nipper having scored 713 runs at 118,83 and taken 23 wickets at 19,69 this season.

It will be Inland’s first three-day competition final and it comes in Nipper’s 11th season with the team.

“The last few seasons have been something different. We never really competed during my career. We were always there or thereabouts, but never really competed for trophies and now for the last few seasons to be competing for trophies, and to be one of the best amateur sides in the country, has been awesome,” he said.

Nipper explained what the difference has been for Inland this season: “We’re not scared to lose. That’s our biggest trait at the moment. We’re not playing to draw games, we’re playing to win.

“Probably three out of the games that we have drawn, we probably should have won, but there were things like weather that we couldn’t control. We’ve played fearless cricket this season. In three-day cricket, if you can do that and it comes off, you get to a final.”

Inland enter the match with an unbeaten record in the Sunfoil 3-Day Cup, the only team to have achieved that feat. Province, who will enjoy the advantage of playing at home, recorded five wins to Inland’s four, but also suffered three defeats. However, none of that will count for anything in the trophy-deciding clash.

Last time out, Province won against KwaZulu-Natal with Proteas bowler Vernon Philander in their ranks. One of the big questions ahead of the final is whether or not he will turn out for the amateur side again.

“I’ll be surprised if he does play,” Nipper said.

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