Dolphins, Titans square off in T20 opener
The Sunfoil Dolphins and the Nashua Titans are coming off contrasting first-class campaigns but the coaches of the respective teams believe that first-class form will count for very little when the two teams kick off the RAM SLAM T20 Challenge at Sahara Stadium Kingsmead on Friday.
The Dolphins enjoyed one of their best Sunfoil Series campaigns in years when they ended third after winning four matches while the luckless Titans failed to win a game.
The Dolphins are coming off a comprehensive 393-run victory over the Titans in a Sunfoil Series match but Titans coach Matthew Maynard does not believe that his team will be unduly affected by the result heading into the day/night T20 clash in Durban.
“It is a total different game and the result over the past weekend will have no bearing on Friday’s game. We need to get our preparation done well this week,” he said.
“We have two warm-up games on Wednesday and will then have some good sessions in Durban ahead of the game,” he added.
Lance Klusener, the Dolphins' coach, echoed Maynard’s sentiments. “They (Titans) are a good team. There is no easy game in the competition. They are the same as us, they will have a couple of personnel changes and they have got some extremely dangerous players if they put it all together,” said Klusener.
“We have just got to rock up and make sure that we execute our skills better than them on the day.
“If you walk into someone in the shortened version of the game that has an absolute blinder there is not a lot that you can do. I will just appeal to my boys that we execute our skills whether with bat or ball and the results will take care of themselves,” he explained.
The Dolphins will be without their overseas signing, England international Ravi Bopara, who is still playing in the Bangladesh Premier League, while Proteas left-arm quick Lonwabo Tsotsobe will also be missing due to an ankle injury.
Klusener may have been quick to downplay the significance of his team’s recent form but he did acknowledge that confidence in the squad was high thanks to their recent wins. “We have got some good momentum, we have got some good idea going around and the excitement of a new competition is something that we are all looking forward to,” he said.
Maynard paid tribute to Klusener, who is in his first full season as a domestic coach, for the way he had improved the Dolphins but also expressed his confidence in the Titans’ ability to win in Durban.
“You can see his (Klusener’s) input into the four-day game where they came through very well. They struggled a bit in the Momentum Cup, but he’s turned them around and they look a tougher unit this year. They’re more resilient and hats-off for the work Lance has done.
“They’ve had their best four-day campaign for a number of years, so they’ll be buoyed by that and they’re a strong outfit. They’re covered all round, in batting and bowling. So I expect for it to be a tough encounter at Kingsmead. We have a terrific record there over the years, so I expect a really good game,” he concluded.