The Hollywoodbets Dolphins’ busy early season schedule continues with a Sunfoil Series clash with the bizhub Highveld Lions at Senwes Park in Potchefstroom starting on Tuesday, and the side from Durban will be buoyed on by their impressive performance in East London last week.
The Dolphins trounced the Warriors in their opening four-day encounter by an innings and 70 runs, but they understand that the challenge posed by the Lions will be a completely different one following the Johannesburg-based outfits’ emphatic win against the Buildnat Cape Cobras at the Wanderers recently.
The 2016/17 season is still very much in its infancy following only one round of Sunfoil Series action however Dolphins head coach Grant Morgan has seen some positive signs from his charges already.
“The attitude of the guys last week was terrific, but more specifically their attitude in the field was great,” Morgan said from the team’s base in the North West province.
“The guys really dominated for good periods of the game and despite Keshav (Maharaj) being the major difference, the whole side pulled their weight and the boys are feeling proud of how they have started the season.”
The Lions side were emphatic 10-wicket winners in their opening Sunfoil Series encounter on the Highveld so Morgan understands the challenge that they will pose, but apart from the obvious challenge the Dolphins mentor understands a number of the Lions players on a personal level.
“I have actually coached a lot of the Lions guys as they made up the bulk of my Strikers side. I do know them quite well but in saying that we are never going to underestimate them as we know they are a good unit.
“We really want them to work hard for every inch when the game starts tomorrow and the boys are in a good space so we are excited for the challenge,” an optimistic Morgan added.
Cricket South Africa announced on Monday that Dolphins all-rounder Keshav Maharaj, along with Unlimited Titans spinner Tabraiz Shamzi, had been called up to the Proteas Test squad for the upcoming tour of Australia.
Maharaj was destroyer-in-chief of the Warriors last week when he took career best match figures of 13/157 as well as scoring a better than a run-a-ball 72 to help set up victory, and in the same breath bag the man of the match award.
Although this last performance has improved the all-rounders shares in cricketing circles he has been at the forefront of the Dolphins’ efforts for a number of seasons, and through consistent performances with the red ball it has resulted in a call-up to the international arena.
“I had a bit of a frustrating off season and I just wanted to get going this season so it was a great way for me and the team to start the season,” Maharaj mentioned.
“It was a surreal feeling getting that phone call and I think I still can’t quite believe I have been selected for South Africa. Currently, though, I am just focusing on contributing to the Dolphins side this week in another tough fixture against a good Lions side.”
Maharaj has become a vital cog in the Dolphins side in all three formats of the game. He is delivering with the ball but he has taken responsibility for scoring runs at the back end of the innings and has developed into a versatile all-rounder.
“I have worked hard on all elements of my game and I see myself as a proper all-rounder, especially after I started making good contributions with the bat towards the latter part of last season.
“I want to continue to improve my fielding as being a quality all-rounder makes it easier to get picked for sides.
“I am looking forward to meeting up with the team and taking in as much knowledge as I can but I am focused firmly on contributing to the Dolphins this week,” he explained.
HOLLYWOODBETS DOLPHINS SQUAD:
Morné van Wyk (captain), Craig Alexander, Tshepang Dithole, Rabian Engelbrecht, Sarel Erwee, Robbie Frylinck, Imraan Khan, Keshav Maharaj, Sibonelo Makhanya, Calvin Savage, Mthokozisi Shezi, Daryn Smit, Vaughn van Jaarsveld, Khaya Zondo