Dolphins running out of time

2008-11-05 00:00

TIME is fast running out for the Dolphins if they hope to make a serious challenge for the SuperSport Series.

After four matches in the 10-match competition, they have yet to win, and four draws mean they lie fifth out of six on the log and 21,08 points behind the leaders — that is a huge deficit to catch up even with six matches to go.

The Free State Eagles present the Dolphins’ next challenge at Kingsmead in Durban from today, and the defending champions are as desperate to chalk up a win after two wins and two losses in their four matches. They lie 4,03 points off the pace after the left-arm spin of Paul Harris (12 wickets in the match) destroyed them last time out in Benoni and ensured the Pretoria boys leapfrogged the Free Staters on the log.

The bottom line is: the Dolphins batsmen have generally come to the party, although have not been able to score quickly enough when the situation has demanded it, but their bowlers have not delivered.

In essence, this match is between the Eagles bowlers and Dolphins batsmen — at least it looks that way on paper. Statistics don’t give the full picture, but the stark facts are that captain Boeta Dippenaar and precocious left-hander Rilee Rossouw (19) are the only Eagles among the SS Series top 20 batsmen, but a healthy mix of spin and seam in Victor Mpitsang, Dillon du Preez, Thandi Tshabalala, Con de Lange and CJ de Villiers are among the top 20 bowlers.

Furthermore Dean Elgar, their 21-year-old opening batsman struck 57 and 155 (out of 244 in the second innings) against the dominant Titans last time out, so their batting isn’t as bad as it may look at first glance — and then there’s the durable Morne van Wyk and explosive Loots Bosman due for big scores. Both Elgar and Rossouw are already averaging in the forties in first-class cricket.

Khaya Zondo (18) comes in for the out-of-nick opening batsman Rivash Gobind, but not to fulfil the opening berth. Grant Rowley, equally out of touch at this level, is expected to do this job — it doesn’t bode well. Similarly, the dearth of bowling talent in KZN means the same players have been tried with little success and are still in the side with little prospect of being replaced.

The Dolphins have almost used up their home SS Series matches — three of the four have been at Kingsmead, and they have precious little to show for it.

An ardent Dolphins fan has every right to feel nervous this weekend.


Dolphins: Imraan Khan (vice-captain), Grant Rowley, Pierre de Bruyn, Ahmed Amla (capt), David Miller, Jon Kent, Khaya Zondo, Daryn Smit, Quinton Friend, Saidi Mlongo, Ugasen Govender, Yusuf Abdullah.

Eagles: Boeta Dippenaar (captain), Dean Elgar, Ryan Bailey, Morne van Wyk, Rilee Rossouw, Victor Mpitsang, Dillon du Preez, Shadley van Schalkwyk, CJ de Villiers, Thandi Tshabalala, Con de Lange, Divan van Wyk.

• The Gauteng derby should be the highlight of the fifth round of SuperSport Series cricket matches, starting today, as the log leading Titans strive to protect their position against neighbours Highveld Lions at Centurion.

Decades ago, the Lions (then Transvaal) used to regularly thump their northern counterparts (Northern Transvaal), but the wheel has definitely turned and the Titans will go into the game in Centurion as firm favourites.

In Paarl, the fast bowlers in the Warriors and Cape Cobras teams will be taking great interest in the conditions after Boland chief executive Omar Henry promised that there would be more bounce in the Boland Park strip for the game, saying the late winter had hampered preparation of the square.

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