Captain Keshav Maharaj driven to deliver a trophy for Dolphins

‘I always find a sense of calm when I come back to the Dolphins, because I feel like this is my safe place and home for me,’ said captain Keshav Maharaj. Photo: BackpagePix

‘I always find a sense of calm when I come back to the Dolphins, because I feel like this is my safe place and home for me,’ said captain Keshav Maharaj. Photo: BackpagePix

Published Mar 8, 2024


There is something different about Keshav Maharaj when he is given the captaincy role.

He transforms from being the quietly confident spin master to a fearless leader that wears his heart on his sleeve, especially on the field of play.

His captaincy stint with Durban’s Super Giants in the SA20 earlier this year was a great showcase of his leadership qualities as the 34-year-old led a team that finished second-last on the log last year to the final this year.

Put the accolades aside for a moment and pay attention to the behaviour of his team on the field. They were fearless and dominant, a set of traits that tend to emerge from individuals when Maharaj is given the captaincy reins.

One would expect more of the same from the dynamic Dolphins team that Maharaj will lead against Western Province tonight at Kingsmead (6pm start) as the Cricket South Africa T20 Challenge kicks off around the country.

The experienced international is setting his sights on sharing his knowledge with a team that has an even blend of youngsters and seasoned professionals.

“It’s a privilege to be able to pass on my knowledge to the next generation, but also to learn from the guys that have been here for a long time,” Maharaj said in a Dolphins statement yesterday.

“I always find a sense of calm when I come back to the Dolphins, because I feel like this is my safe place and home for me. I find playing for the Dolphins a perfect platform for me to hone my skills.”

The Durban outfit do not have the big names that most of the teams currently have around the country as the Warriors welcome speedster Anrich Nortjé, while Aiden Markram is back with the Titans, Kagiso Rabada with the Lions and Kyle Verreynne with Western Province.

However, the 19-man squad that Dolphins coach Imraan Khan selected is just as strong, as 13 of them were involved in the SA20 while eight took part in the final at Newlands last month, something their competitors can’t match.

Maharaj understands that his players’ involvement in the SA20 might give them an edge over their competitors and help bring trophies back to Durban.

“We have a very strong squad for this competition. We’ve had strong squads in the past, but this one is probably the strongest. The SA20 has given a lot of players exposure.

“It also helped in increasing skill levels and cricket awareness, so players have been up-skilled through the tournament.

“I’m still driven to win trophies with the Dolphins, and that still motivates me a lot.

“I want to win trophies for the Dolphins. And obviously it hasn’t been a great season from that perspective, but it would be fitting to end the season with another trophy.

“But it’s not about focusing on the trophies. It’s about focusing on the processes and winning the games that get you to those trophies.”

Up north, the Lions and the Titans have given opportunities to 2023 Under-19 World Cup semi-finalists Kwena Maphaka, Steve Stolk and Lhuan-dré Pretorius respectively.

Similarly, the Dolphins have included SA Under-19 fast bowler Tristan Luus in their squad.

Maharaj knows he will have to take Luus under his wing for the tournament.

“It’s exciting to have someone like Tristan Luus, who we’ve been monitoring for the last two years, and we’ve finally got him on board at the Dolphins,” the left-arm spinner said.

“This is a reward for the hard work he put in for the SA Under-19 side, where he bowled really nicely and whacked it a bit – so it’s great to have that extra depth in the squad.”

Down in Gqeberha, Nortjé will be charging in alongside Marco Jansen for the Warriors as they host the Tuskers at St George’s Park tonight (6pm).

Tristan Stubbs and Matthew Breetzke will keep the Warriors batting order together as they search for silverware.

Up in Johannesburg, Boland will take on the Bjorn Fortuin-led Lions at the Wanderers (6pm).

Fortuin will have an abundance of experience to fall back on, with Proteas stars Temba Bavuma and Kagiso Rabada in the squad.

The other match tonight (6pm) will see the Titans host the North West Dragons in Centurion.

Dolphins Squad

Keshav Maharaj (captain), Grant Roelofsen, Bryce Parsons, Eathan Bosch, Khaya Zondo, Marques Ackerman, Jon-Jon Smuts, Brad Porteous, Jason Smith, Andile Phehlukwayo, Andile Simelane, Prenelan Subrayen, Ottniel Baartman, Okuhle Cele, Daryn Dupavillon, Tristan Luus, Odirile Modimokoane, Tshepang Dithole, SJ Erwee.