Crunch time for Dolphins

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At present, the Dolphins are third on the log, two points behind the Cobras, but the competition for play-off places is so tight that literally anything could happen.

Victory for the Dolphins tonight would give them a home semi-final next Wednesday – and the welcome addition of Kevin Pietersen – while a loss could see them out of the competition.

If the Cobras had beaten the Warriors on Wednesday night, they would have guaranteed their play-off place, but the eastern Cape franchise won a thriller by 12 runs, enabling them to stay in the hunt.

Now the Dolphins will have to face a team that will be at least as motivated as they are to secure a positive result.

The importance of the match lies not simply in the Dolphins progressing in the T20 competition, but building momentum for the remainder of the summer with the four-day Sunfoil Series and the second half of the Momentum One-Day Cup still to come.

So far, the Dolphins have begun each competition brightly before falling away. This has certainly been the case in the Ram Slam, with Morne van Wyk’s men winning their first four matches (courtesy of Kevin Pietersen) before losing four of their last five games (the fifth being a washout). Dolphins’ chief executive Pete de Wet said tonight’s action, in which all three franchises will be playing, would shape the rest of the competition.

“I’m in a position where I could be flying Kevin (Pietersen) to Durban, Port Elizabeth or Cape Town. Or tell him to stay at home,” he said yesterday.

The main worry for the Dolphins is their batting. Since Pietersen’s departure it has been woeful. The senior players up front have not fired, and this has put a lot of pressure on the inexperienced middle-order, which has not responded.

Morne van Wyk, who has so often been a banker for the team, has struggled for form all season since he injured his hand in the nets during the 50-over competition.

Cameron Delport, a centurion in this format and a potential match-winner if only he could bat for 10 overs, has been too inconsistent.

Time and again he’s smashed quick runs and then succumbed to a poor shot.

There was no batsman in the country in better form than Vaughn van Jaarsveld in the 50-over competition, but his bat has subsequently cooled, not helped by not being picked at the beginning of the competition.

Khaya Zondo has had a dreadful time of it since his return from India where he was, unfortunately, unemployed.

He was involved in the group Black Cricketers in Unity, which sent a letter to Cricket South Africa complaining about black African cricketers being used as drinks carriers at an international level.

The fallout from that has certainly affected Zondo’s form, and one wonders if his mind is completely on his work. He certainly has a lot to prove tonight, assuming he is not rested.

Overseas pro Dwayne Bravo has also failed to fire, and tonight would be the perfect opportunity for him to show his undoubted qualities.

*The Dolphins will play the Sharks in their annual T20 match at Kingsmead on December 15 in what is being called The Hollywoodbets Showdown at the Coast (6pm).

In the series so far, the score stands at 1-1. The game received a big promotion yesterday with sponsors Hollywoodbets guaranteeing R20 000 each for Umlazi Cricket Club and the Malvern Children’s Home.

In addition, they will add an extra R500 into the pot for every six that is hit, the amount to be divided equally between the two charities.

As an appetiser, there will be a Sixes (six overs per side) Legends match that will include the likes of Lance Klusener, Shaun Pollock and Neil Johnson. - The Mercury

Original source: Crunch time for Dolphins

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