Dolphins to rescue SA pride?

2014-09-22 11:32
Lance Klusener (Gallo Images)

Cape Town – The Dolphins have the dual responsibility of igniting their own campaign and recapturing some semblance of South African honour when they play host-nation Chennai Super Kings in the Champions League Twenty20 tournament in Bangalore later on Monday (16:30 SA time).

The current scoreboard from a SA point of view is “played three, lost three” at the lucrative event, with the Cape Cobras in particularly dire straits now after successive losses in their first two Group B matches.

They may already be goners, given that even wins in their last two matches – starting with Barbados Tridents on Friday – won’t necessarily be enough to ensure semi-final qualification; some other results would need to go their way and they will also have to greatly perk up their negative net run rate of -1.646.

At least the Dolphins, last season’s domestic T20 champions, gave it a real go in their Group A opener against Perth Scorchers, and were odds-on to win when Mitchell Marsh needed to hit successive sixes off the previously economical Robbie Frylinck’s last two balls of the match ... yet promptly did so.

But if Lance Klusener’s charges want to stay in the running themselves, they badly need to triumph against the Super Kings to avoid falling into the Cobras’ predicament.

They do at least look that crucial bit stealthier in the field thus far than the Cobras, who have a dangerously “Dad’s Army” look about them for this high-tempo format of the game.

Particularly in their first game - where they lost on the Duckworth/Lewis method but looked set for a real roasting anyway after leaking 200-plus runs to New Zealand’s Northern Districts bowling first – it was painfully evident that they were carrying too many ageing (and in some cases overly hefty) customers.

Six of the team who surrendered that match were over 30 years off age and some significantly so: Charl Langeveldt is 39, Justin Kemp 36, Robin Peterson 35 and captain Justin Ontong 34, although at least the latter two remain notably sprightly as fieldsmen.

When they shook up their brew for Sunday’s slightly tighter loss to Hobart Hurricanes, introducing Richard Levi to their top order produced some dividends (an aggressive knock of 42) although he is also no gazelle from a fielding perspective.

It was also refreshing to see SA Engelbrecht, who has earned a slightly unwanted reputation as a “specialist fielder” at Newlands in recent seasons, make a fulsome, inventive bowling contribution, something desperately needed after rather more frontline spinner Dane Piedt’s shoulder pop-out mishap early in his stint.

Sadly the Cobras were probably undone by a fateful no-ball from Vernon Philander, hitherto impressive with both blade and ball, in the third-last over of their defence: the aptly-named Aiden Blizzard cashed in handsomely to turn around the match in a few subsequent minutes.

One mitigating factor for the Capetonians in their struggle thus far is that they came to the tournament more or less out of the home winter, with outdoor opportunities thus fairly limited ahead of the CLT20.

Yes, the same no doubt applied to both the New Zealand and Aussie teams they’ve played second fiddle to, but the Northern Districts had played three precious matches in the qualifying mini-tournament in India, so were much more equipped to hit the ground running and be familiar with conditions.

The Dolphins must try to stop the SA rot against a CSK team which boasts such stellar batting names as Brendon McCullum, Suresh Raina, Faf du Plessis and MS Dhoni ... and also without their own ace finisher David Miller who plays instead for his IPL franchise, the unbeaten Kings XI Punjab.

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

Read more on:    lance klusener  |  cricket

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