Young Dolphins step up just in time

2015-03-10 00:00

IT’S been a while since it took the Dolphins only two-and-a-half days to wrap up a four-day game.

The fact it was done against the Cobras, at Newlands, speaks volumes for the young side and how seriously they have taken the remaining matches in the long version of the game having missed out in the one-day (50 over) and T20 competitions.

Newlands is a tough venue for visiting teams but the Dolphins got stuck in from ball one last Thursday, completing an eight-wicket win immediately after tea on Saturday afternoon.

The win moved the Dolphins to second on the four-day log, 17,24 points behind the Lions with three matches to play.

Having been robbed by the weather in getting a sizeable haul of points the previous week against the Knights in Durban, the Dolphins had to produce the goods to stay in the hunt and, on an unusual Newlands wicket, came out on top in a match which fluctuated more than the tides in Durban.

Tumbling wickets was by far the order of all two-and-a-half days played, with 32 wickets falling for 821 runs, at 25,66 per wicket.

To the observer, it was a great game and advertisement for the poorly supported four-day format. For the teams, it was skills, stamina and ­determination counteracted by frustration and nerves.

Just when it seemed one side had the initiative, the match would turn on its head, a flurry of wickets causing havoc, a steady innings righting the ship once more. It could have gone either way.

A brief summary would see the Dolphins enjoy a 114-run advantage after the first innings — that in itself disappointing with a bigger lead expected after bowling out the Cobras for 156.

At 176-2 in their second knock and Stiaan van Zyl on his way to a hundred, the Cobras fancied themselves to set a tough challenge for the Dolphins, but they collapsed to 253 all out, leaving the Dolphins 140 to win.

“I thought it was a great pitch which offered more for the batsmen,” said Dolphins captain Morné van Wyk. “The new ball did something but the moisture in the track early on enabled our spinner Keshav Maharaj to take control.”

Asked to field after losing the toss, Van Wyk was smiling late on day one with 10 wickets already taken by his bowlers, six by Maharaj, who finished with match figures of 10-145.

“He took a wicket with his first ball which spun and bowled the dangerous Andrew Puttick. There was a little bit of turn, not that much to make the ball turn square, but Keshav bowled a good length with great flight,” said Van Wyk. “It was a good cricket wicket.”

Van Wyk added it was the best he had seen the Dolphins’ bowling unit operate for a long time, delivering when they had to after a mediocre batting display.

“There was hunger from the ­players and they put their hands up,” he said. “This week, it’s back to ­putting our skills on the park against the Titans at Centurion.”

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