With a spot in Sunday’s final of the RAM Slam T20 Challenge on the line, the Sunfoil Dolphins are thrilled to welcome back international superstar and match winner Kevin Pietersen for their Qualifier clash with the Cape Cobras at Sahara Stadium Kingsmead in Durban on Wednesday evening.
The former England international was in sublime touch for the East Coast outfit during his time with the side for the first half of the competition, bludgeoning two centuries in five innings and was instrumental in the Dolphins winning their four opening matches of the tournament.
Pietersen’s 364 runs in five innings is only 61 runs shy of the tournament’s leading run scorer Quinton de Kock and leaves the 35 year old second on the leading run scorers list despite playing five less games that The Unlimited Titans keeper/batsman.
Despite Pietersen’s inclusion coming at the expense of a Durban-based player, head coach Lance Klusener believes the former Martizburg College pupil picks himself following his impressive initial burst in the competition.
“Let’s not forget Kevin’s (Pietersen) role in the first five games of the tournament,” the coach mentioned on Tuesday. “Kevin has really deserved and earned his place in the side for this competition.
“It is obviously going to be tough for somebody (to miss out) but at the same time we are gaining a world class player in Kevin!”
The Dolphins head into the clash having beaten the Cape Cobras this past Friday however despite their fresh victory, Klusener is wary about the threat that the side from the Mother City poses.
“They are an extremely good team and I think they might have been a little bit underprepared in the last game but they are a quality team and I think they are going to be a lot better prepared for us tomorrow.
“We are expecting a different team tomorrow, a much tougher team.
“They have got a lot of experience and I know that they hurt badly when they don’t win so tomorrow I think it is going to be a little bit of a different opposition for us,” the coach stressed.
With the last encounter between the two teams having been on Friday, Klusener feels that his side are in the right space even though there is a final on the line.
“We are not going to learn much in the next day or two considering that the tournament is so far down the line.
“It’s now just about making sure that we pitch up tomorrow after we have touched up on a few small things in the nets.
“We just need to make sure that everybody is getting what they need so that we can hopefully hit the ground fresh tomorrow,” added Klusener.
A player who was vital in the Sunfoil Dolphins earning the right to host the Qualifier was hard-hitting left hander Jonathan Vandiar.
Vandiar has been in and out of the Sunfoil Dolphins mix in recent years but repaid the faith the coaching staff showed him by scoring 32 off just twelve deliveries on Friday evening.
“It has taken a while but it is good to finally contribute to a winning cause,” Vandiar said with a smile.
“I thought to myself [during the offseason] when I get a chance how am I going to win the game for the team and I feel now that I am mentally prepared.
“Through challenging myself I have been able to improve and that helped me get us over the line on Friday.”
Tickets for the RAM Slam T20 Challenge Qualifier will be available at www.ticketpro.co.za or at the stadium.
Sunfoil Dolphins Squad:
Morne van Wyk (captain), Dwayne Bravo, Cameron Delport, Rabian Engelbrecht, Keshav Maharaj, Ryan McLaren, David Miller, Ayavuya Myoli, Kyle Nipper, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kevin Pietersen, Vaughn van Jaarsveld, Jonathan Vandiar, Khaya Zondo, Lance Klusener (head coach), Rivash Gobind (assistant coach), Brett Edwards (physiotherapist)