It’s anyone’s game

2015-03-11 00:00

TOMORROW’S four-day series ­showdown at Centurion between the Titans and Dolphins could be one to follow with interest. The Dolphins are currently second on the four-day log, just 1,98 points ahead of the Titans in third.

The two teams have an interesting ­history over recent seasons, both capable of taking charge of a match and grinding the other side down.

As the teams take to the field ­tomorrow, it will be the Titans enjoying the last laugh, having beaten the ­Dolphins on home soil at Kingsmead in the playoff of the One-Day Cup before securing the title with a well constructed win against the Cobras in Cape Town.

However, as far as four-day contests go, the Dolphins were far superior when the sides met in Durban at the end of December, winning by an innings and 54 runs. It was a Ryan McLaren century that saw the Dolphins breach the 500-run mark in their only innings as they captured 20 Titan scalps before they could reach the target.

McLaren has been sidelined by a hamstring injury since breaking down in that One-Day Cup playoff on February 10 after bowling just 3.5 overs and swinging the bat lustily at the end but to no avail.

However, he is named in the Dolphins squad for tomorrow although he will not get on the park.

“I will travel with the team but won’t be playing,” he said. “Still undergoing ­rehab, I will practice with the lads and bat and bowl in the nets.

“If I am needed for the last two games, which depends where the team are and how they do against the Titans, I will play. But, it is fair to let the current players, the boys doing the business, to see things through and not have someone give up their spot for a ‘ballie’ like me returning to the fold.”

McLaren has been undergoing ­treatment in Bloemfontein and although he feels good, he is taking a sensible ­approach to coming right again.

“I have to be conservative and not jump into the thick of things too soon,” he said. “Yes, I may feel better but there is no way I would risk breaking down again, resulting in the injury becoming chronic.

“The season is nearly done and why risk everything when I can recover and get back to running on all cylinders in the off-season.”

Meanwhile, Dolphins coach Lance Klusener has put the recent eight-wicket win against the Cobras on the shelf as he looks to tick the boxes in Pretoria.

“We are in charge of our own destiny as far as the competition goes,” he said. “While the camp was disappointed at how we went in the 50-over and T20 competitions, we still have a chance in the four-day format if we take on our last three games with purpose.”

And that is how the young Dolphins team have gone about their business of late. Getting decent game time over four days without a large slice of the contest lost to the weather, has seen the team play with determination and a steely ­resolve to prove their worth and earn the opposition’s respect.

“The boys have taken their opportunities well and no one has let the side down,” said Klusener. “It’s a tough school of cricket out there and it’s encouraging we can afford to leave good players out the team as they struggle to get back in. It’s good for KZN cricket.”

Dolphins Squad: Divan van Wyk, Imraan Khan, Khayelihle Zondo, Cody Chetty, Daryn Smit, Morne van Wyk (c), Andile Phehlukwayo, Calvin Savage, Keshav Maharaj, Daryn Dupavillon, Graham Hume, Matthew Pillans and Ryan McLaren.

Tomorrow’s SS fixtures

Titans v Dolphins

Cobras v Warriors

Knights v Lions.

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