Form outfits Dolphins and Cobras set for clash
Dolphins assistant coach Imraan Khan is pleased with their build-up to the RAM SLAM T20 Challenge semi-final against the Cape Cobras at Kingsmead in Durban on Thursday, saying they were finding form at precisely the right time.
The KwaZulu-Natal franchise impressively beat the Knights and the Titans in their last two matches to snatch second spot on the table – and with it the right to stage one of the two play-off games.
“It was a must-win weekend for us and I think the guys responded very well,” Khan said. “There were different challenges for us across both games and I think the boys dealt with them well. We now look forward to the next test.”
It has been a frustrating competition for the Durban-based franchise, who were in danger of missing out on a top-four finish after five of their matches were washed out by rain.
But they delivered when it really counted and now have some form to take into the semis.
“You always want to peak at the business end of the competition,” assistant coach Khan added. “It’s something we’ve chatted about as a team. Fortunately, we’ve come good at the right time and hopefully there’s still some good performances left in the tank.”
Although the Dolphins did win their last two games to earn a home semi-final, the Cobras had gone into the last league-phase match favourites to host Thursday’s game in Cape Town.
They had just inflicted a first loss of the season on a strong Titans team at Newlands to take control of second spot.
But they lost to the Warriors in East London to lose their grip, while the already-qualified Titans did not help them by resting several of their first-choice players for their clash with the Dolphins, eventually slipping to a record loss in Durban.
It all left coach Ashwell Prince frustrated.
“Of course, we’re disappointed that we didn’t get that home semi-final but we got nobody to blame but ourselves because it was in our hands had we won the game,” he said. “So that’s disappointing, but at least we qualified.”
And the Cobras boss did not take too kindly to the Dolphins’ result against the reigning champions on Sunday.
“We’ve already shown that we can beat a full-strength Titans team,” Prince said. “So, we really believe we can beat anybody in this competition and that belief is evident in the squad.”
However, he was full of praise for the Dolphins after they overcame the bad luck with the weather to end as well as they did.
“I don’t think anybody can criticise the Dolphins because you could argue that they could have won half of those matches and finished in the same position, so fair play to them,” Prince added.
The one other thing that has left the Cobras coach worried is the weather forecast for the east coast week.
It has rained most of the week, with more rain scheduled for Thursday. If the game is rained out, as four of the five in Durban have been so far this season, the Dolphins will progress by virtue of ending higher than the Cobras on the table.
“I hope CSA will do everything possible to make sure we can get a game in Durban,” Prince concluded.
The Dolphins squad is: Khaya Zondo (capt), Sarel Erwee, Morne van Wyk, Dane Vilas, Sibonelo Makhanya, Andile Phehlukwayo, Keshav Maharaj, Prenelan Subrayen, Athi Maposa, Vaughn van Jaarsveld, Mthokozisi Shezi, Imran Tahir, Robert Frylinck.
The Cobras squad is: JP Duminy (capt), Ferisco Adams, Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma, Rory Kleinveldt, Carlos Koyana (w/k), Richard Levi, George Linde, Aviwe Mgijima, Mthiwekhaya Nabe, Justin Ontong, Dane Paterson, Vernon Philander, Dane Piedt
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