In what is arguably one of the most exciting climaxes to a South African domestic four-day competition in many years, the Hollywoodbets Dolphins will need to secure a win against the in-form BuildNat Cape Cobras to have any chance of winning the 2016/2017 Sunfoil Series.
With the Multiply Titans needing just 91 runs to win in the second innings in their Sunfoil Series match in Pietermaritzburg this past week, a valiant effort from the Dolphins nearly saw them scoop an unlikely victory with Prenelan Subrayen being the pick of the bowlers in the Titans’ second knock with 5/35.
It was not enough as the Titans snuck home with two wickets to spare.
A casualty of that game for the Dolphins was star all-rounder Keshav Maharaj, who picked up a groin injury that forced him from the field in the Titans’ first innings. Maharaj was unable to bowl or bat in the Dolphins second innings – a big blow to the Durban-based franchise.
“Although it didn’t all go our way in Maritzburg it was great that we were able to push a top side all the way,” coach Grant Morgan said.
“With one man down with an injury, a key man, the boys should feel proud of the effort that they put in last week.”
The Hollywoodbets Dolphins go into their final round showdown knowing that a win is the only option if they are to win their first outright four-day title since the establishment of the franchise system, manufacturing that win is what Morgan has put a lot of thought into.
“We have to go into the first day with a very strong mindset whether we bat or bowl so we can gain an immediate advantage over the opposition.
“When both sides are trying to win if you can put the opposition behind the eight ball they can’t go into a defensive mindset, they also have to try and move the game forward.
“If both sides are playing good cricket the game will accelerate on the final day as both teams need to try and fabricate something to give themselves a chance at winning the game,” Morgan explained.
With the Titans and the VKB Knights in the driving seat going into this final round of fixtures, Morgan has to keep a close eye on their progress knowing that his chargers will have to pounce should they get a sniff at a title chance.
“If the Titans or the Knights win there isn’t anything we can do besides play for our highest possible position on the log.
“But if the Titans and the Knights don’t get above a certain amount of batting points and by lunch on day two we know that, we will exert pressure and hopefully know exactly what we have to do on the final day.”
Sahara Stadium Kingsmead has been a happy hunting ground for the East Coast men with an unblemished record at their home ground. Morgan believes that the way his side has gone about constructing results at home has been positive.
“We have been good at executing our plans and besides not getting over the line in Maritzburg we have done it in the previous two games we played at Kingsmead.
“The Knights were way behind the game when we lost two days to the weather and then we lost two days again against the Warriors when we had them virtually on their knees.
“I am happy with the way in which we have embraced our local conditions,” added Morgan.
With the Momentum One Day Cup around the corner the Dolphins coaching staff have taken the decision that captain Morné van Wyk will sit out the final Sunfoil Series clash with Mthokozisi Shezi also being rested with a slight hamstring niggle.
Keshav Maharaj’s groin injury has not healed and he will sit out but should be fit for the opening One Day Cup clash with the Titans on Friday, 17 February.
With the injuries to the squad, the coaching staff have added KZN Inland left-arm seamer Attie Maposa and exciting, young right-arm quick Okuhle Cele to the squad for their final four-day outing of the season.
Both players are yet to be capped at franchise level.
HOLLYWOODBETS DOLPHINS SQUAD:
Okuhle Cele, Rabian Engelbrecht, Rob Frylinck, Attie Maposa, Sibonelo Makhanya, Senuran Muthusamy, Calvin Savage, Daryn Smit, Prenelan Subrayen, Vaughn van Jaarsveld, Divan van Wyk, Khaya Zondo.