Three matches in five days, starting with their clash against the troubled Lions at Kingsmead tonight, may well define the Dolphins’ campaign in the Ram Slam T20 Challenge.
After an encouraging start, the Dolphins threw away almost certain victory against the Warriors last Friday, finally settling for a tie, before going down at home against the table-topping Cobras on Sunday.
Nevertheless they are still well in the mix, just three points behind the second-placed Warriors with two matches in hand.
Tonight’s clash has to be seen as a must-win affair for the Joburg-based franchise languishing at the foot of the table and seemingly out of the running for honours.
“It’s a big week,” acknowledged Dolphins coach Lance Klusener at practice yesterday. “If we can do well then it sets us up for the rest of the competition.”
Klusener pointed out, however, that “T20 is rarely pretty. Only one game in 10 goes precisely according to plan. For the rest, you’ve got to scratch and get what you can.”
Looking back on the match against the Cobras, Klusener said the team had let themselves down with their poor start when they slumped to 10/3.
“In the end we only lost by 25 runs, so we take some positives out of our recovery.”
The coach has always looked reality square in the face and admitted that the Dolphins were not a star outfit.
“We’re not a good enough team whereby just a few people rock up and do the work. Everybody has to pitch up and put their stuff on the table. That’s what we have to focus on this week – everybody must contribute. If that happens then we’ll be tough to beat.”
Asked whether it made sense to have game plans for T20 cricket, Klusener said the format often ebbed and flowed in an unstructured way, and that the key to victory was to “jump on” opportunities when they arose.
He added, however, that it was important to respect the conditions at Kingsmead. “If you’re 18 without loss after four overs, it’s not a train smash. You can always recover. But if you’re 10/3 in the same period, the game’s just about gone. We didn’t pay respect to the conditions on Sunday.”
While he’s been generally happy with the Dolphins’ bowling and fielding, Klusener has been less happy with the batting.
“We’ve gone in fits and starts, and we need to be more consistent. I suppose one good thing is that we haven’t had a game where we’ve got it all together with the bat. That’s encouraging because it’s got to come at some stage.”
The Dolphins have kept faith with the squad chosen for the matches against the Warriors and Lions, and it’s hard to see any changes being made for tonight’s match. - The Mercury