The Sunfoil Dolphins got their 2014/15 season off to a solid start by finishing as runners-up at the inaugural edition of the Global Softech 6s tournament following a narrow one run loss to hosts The Unlimited Titans at SuperSport Park, Centurion in Pretoria in Friday 5 September’s final.
With five opportunities to challenge for trophies this season and the squad hoping to bring home more than just the one – the Ram Slam T20 – they clinched last year, the team and their management were pleased with the positive start despite falling just short of their first trophy.
Having won the toss and bowled first, the Dolphins bowlers suffered at the hands of the hard-hitting men from up-country and tiny boundaries with the Titans finishing on 126/1, a record highest total of tournament.
Keshav Maharaj (29) ably supported his evergreen skipper Morné van Wyk (35*) – who had been sublime throughout the tournament – as the pair got the Dolphins got off to the perfect start with the bat, seeing the men from Durban needing a relatively achievable 31 runs off the final twelve deliveries.
A magnificent penultimate over from left-arm orthodox Roelof van der Merwe however saw big-hitters Khaya Zondo (7) and Robbie Frylinck (28) heading back to the shed and the momentum swing the way of the hosts.
A valiant effort by Thando Tshabalala (19*) in the final over just wasn’t enough as the Dolphins fell just a two runs short of their first trophy of the season.
“I said to the guys that if we scored the highest score of the tournament then we were deserved winners. We came so very close and I’m still very proud of the boys’ efforts!” said van Wyk afterwards.
Having started shakily on Thursday’s opening day, losing two of the day’s fixtures to the bizhub Highveld Lions and The Unlimited Titans, the Dolphins managed to keep their trophy hopes afloat on the opening day courtesy of a 25 run victory over the Chevrolet Knights.
“We’ve got a great group of guys and we had to learn some lessons quickly yesterday.
“Every form of the game has its own rhythm and this one does too – it’s pretty frenetic – and this was the first time a lot of us have played this format so we had to adjust and bring ourselves up to speed,” said van Wyk.
With his team backed against the rope, Dolphins captain Morné van Wyk continued from where he left off on day one and blitzed his way to retirement – having past the 30 run mark – in both of Friday’s final matches of the round robin phase of the tournament.
Van Wyk was handsomely supported with both bat and ball by all-rounder Robbie Frylinck in Friday’s first two encounters, seeing the hard-hitting batsman and right arm seamer named Man of the Match on both occasions.
The pair’s contributions together with chip-ins with the bat from the likes of Keshav Maharaj and Khaya Zondo and good variations with the ball by South Africa U19 captain Sibonelo Makhanya, saw the Dolphins beat both the Nashua Cape Cobras and the Chevrolet Warriors by a full six wickets.
It was however van Wyk’s incredible consistency that stood out for the men from the East Coast.
“I’ve been blessed with a long career and I’m still enjoying it, hopefully I can just keep going,” said van Wyk. “When you strike it like that it’s always a nice felling!”
Following their runners-up effort, three of the Dolphins players were selected for the national side for the Global Softech Africa Sixes Challenge that starts on Saturday with all-rounder Robbie Frylink and batsmen Khaya Zondo and Cameron Delport joining Titans stars Farhaan Behardien, Mangaliso Mosehle and David Wiese with Lions stand-in captain Chris Morris rounding out the squad.
The next assignment looming on the horizon for the Dolphins is the exciting Champions League T20 which gets underway in India in a few weeks’ time and the tournament will be a first appearance on an international stage for many of the squad.