Dolphins, Gayle fear worst

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Anesh Debiky/Gallo Images

Washout: The MiWay T20 Challenge match between the Dolphins and Lions at Kingsmead last weekend was hit by heavy rain. Picture: Anesh Debiky/Gallo Images

LUNGANI ZAMA

As if things couldn’t get worse, the Sunfoil Dolphins look like they will have to make do without Chris Gayle in the MiWay T20 Challenge.

Dolphins chief executive Jesse Chellan said yesterday the prospects of Gayle playing looked grim.

It had been hoped that he would play his first game on Friday, in the ultimately washed out contest against the Titans in Pretoria.

“Chris won’t be featuring against the Warriors (today in East London), and, to be honest, he may not play for us at all,” said Chellan.

Gayle, one of the most destructive forces in T20 cricket, was expected to propel the Dolphins to the lucrative Champions League. But a tweaked hamstring in his final match in the Bangladesh Premier League has refused to get better, so the big Jamaican has made more runs to Nando’s from his hotel room than he will probably make out in the middle.

Although he has raised morale and been in the dressing room to chat to the younger members of the squad, his true worth out in the heat of battle has been sorely missed.

His increasingly likely no-show is a terrible blow to a season that simply refuses to take shape for Lance Klusener’s charges. The only constant about the side has been the astonishing amount of rain wherever they seem to play.

“It’s crazy, and Friday’s game makes it eight or nine games that have been washed out for us this season,” said Chellan.

The no-results, especially the one on Wednesday against the whipping boys of the competition, the Impi, now mean the Dolphins have precious little leeway in the race for a play-off spot.

“I don’t think it’s too much pressure, because we are still six points off the top,” Chellan pointed out.

The Dolphins, who started with three wins in their first four outings in the competition, have been stuck in limbo for two weeks. With no other cricket on the go, the danger is that the batsmen will lose their touch at a crucial point in the campaign.

After this afternoon’s clash the Dolphins will host the Knights and the Cobras on the next two Wednesday nights at Kingsmead.

Sandwiched in between those home ties is a visit to the Wanderers on Friday, to take on the high-flying Lions. With things getting increasingly tight at the top, the Dolphins can probably only afford to lose one more match.

Their opponents today were surprisingly beaten by the Knights in a low-scoring affair on Friday night. But the Dolphins will remember well how the experienced men from Port Elizabeth drilled them by 10 wickets at Kingsmead nine days ago.

Makhaya Ntini remains a threat with the new ball, and the wily Warriors have proved very adept at switching around their powerful batting line-up, depending on the circumstances.

Despite this, their serene win at Kingsmead was the result of a woeful display with bat and ball by the Dolphins, and was the beginning of a down-turn in the fortunes for the Durban side.

The grim weather over the past fortnight has not helped, and Chellan was loath even to peep at the forecast for today. “I was too scared to check it, just in case I jinx it,” he grimaced.

From here on in, the Dolphins will have to do it the hard way. Without their first-choice overseas stars, and no help from the weather gods, Klusener’s charges need some sunshine in their lives. And fast.


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