Dolphins enter last-chance saloon
The under-performing Sunfoil Dolphins face the high-flying Chevrolet Knights in a RAM SLAM T20 Challenge match at Sahara Stadium Kingsmead on Friday evening and home coach Lance Klusener admits it is the last chance to stay alive in the competition.
The KwaZulu-Natal franchise are without a win and enter the match on the back of three consecutive nine-wicket drubbings.
Their only points have come courtesy of a washout against the Nashua Titans in their opening fixture, but Klusener remains upbeat about their chances.
“If you win five games, you’re going to get a bonus point here and there, and there is still a chance,” he said on Thursday. “It is pretty distant but, if that happens, it will give us around 24 or 25 points, which gives you half a chance, the way the log is.
“We’ve let ourselves and the fans down in this competition, but we can turn it around. If we lose another game, though, we’re pretty much out of the competition.”
The root of their problems has been some abysmal batting displays, with their highest total this season being 136.
“It (the top-order batting has been a concern),” Klusener admitted. “We’ll mix the combinations up a bit and maybe give someone else the opportunity to see if we can improve.”
The Sunfoil Dolphins also sprung a surprise this week by recalling former left-arm quick Yusuf Abdullah from the KZN provincial team after he impressed in the provincial T20 competition.
The 30-year-old, who turned out in two T20 internationals for the Proteas in 2009, last played for the Sunfoil Dolphins two years ago and Klusener said: “We want to have a look at Yusuf. He’s been out for a while, but he’s got good skills, he can bowl at the death and he can bowl up front.”
While the Sunfoil Dolphins have their hopes dangling by a thread the Chevrolet Knights have been building some excellent momentum with three wins in a row.
Their coach, Sarel Cilliers, is hoping the current run continues as they look to close the gap on the leaders, the bizhub Highveld Lions.
“It’s important to get momentum in this sort of competition,” he said.
“We’ve seen it in T20 competitions all over the world, if a team can get a streak going and even the players, if you get one or two of them in really good form in both batting and bowling, then you can win games based on those individuals.
“So it’s important that when you do have that form, you really ride on it. It’s nice when those sorts of things happen to your side.”
He also warned that the Sunfoil Dolphins will not be pushovers despite their current problems. “They may not have had that (consistency and momentum) yet, but that can change anytime,” he added. “The likes of (Vaughn) Van Jaarsveld, (Jonathan) Vandiar or (Ravi) Bopara, those guys are quality players and can change the fortunes of the Dolphins in a flash.
“So we have loads of respect for them. We’ll have to be focussed and on the button if we want to maintain our run.”