DURBAN – In 2018, the Dolphins want to get into the habit of falling on the right side of last-gasp contests.
Throughout the latter part of 2017, they became quite accustomed to taking matches deep, and then always ending up as the bridesmaids.
In the RamSlam T20 Challenge, they had thrilling contests against the Lions and the Warriors, though both ended in last-ball defeats.
In the Momentum One-Day Cup, they have already repeated the bitter dose, losing to the Lions off the last ball before Christmas.
“As much as the loss to the Lions hurt us, we were buoyed by the fact that we played good cricket, and that if teams are going to beat us, then they are going to have to beat us off the last ball,” coach Grant Morgan reasoned.
“We have got used to these tight matches, but we definitely don’t want to become accustomed to it,” he said of the ‘close, but no cigar’ syndrome his side has suffered from lately.
As they look to the Warriors – a different team without the sparkling Colin Ingram – the Dolphins will be looking to change a poor record at St George’s Park.
“We’ve learnt some hard lessons from St George’s Park and haven’t played very well there previously, so we want to change that,” Morgan admitted.
“They (Warriors) are a good side with some great players, but I feel that if we play to our best potential, we should have it over them.
“We’ve identified that the Warriors are the team that have spoiled our party in the past. They’ve thrown us out of our playoff games previously, and we feel that this needs to change.”
The Dolphins head down the coast with a few changes in personnel, but Morgan is confident that they have enough variation and form to counter what the Warriors will bring to the table.
“Everyone is in form at the moment, even the guys coming into the side have performed this season for us.
“In our game in Potch (against the Lions), we might have been criticised for getting out in the 30s, but I didn’t see too many guys throwing their wickets away.”
Vaughn van Jaarsveld’s dislocated finger means that Senuran Muthusamy returns to the side, bringing left-arm spin into the mix, along with his batting.
Mthokozisi Shezi is replaced by Imran Tahir, and top-order ace Sarel Erwee is also back in the squad.
“I am very excited about our batting unit, and it’s good to have the whole squad involved, so we can sit with the selection headaches at a later stage,” a positive Morgan added.
The challenge for Morgan and skipper Khaya Zondo will be plotting the best course of action to turn the Warriors over, given the vast options they have – especially with ball in hand.
“We have a number of different ways that we can approach the game with a four-seamer, three-pinner split – this means that we bat down to number nine.
“We have leg-spin, off-spin and left-arm spin, along with left- and right-arm seam,” Morgan enthused.
The Dolphins are desperate to get one over the Warriors, who were losing finalists in the One-Day Cup last season.
Like the Dolphins, the men from Port Elizabeth don’t rely too much on national players, and it promises to be a tenacious contest between two hard-working teams, coached by a pair of workhorses in Morgan and Rivash Gobind.
Sarel Erwee, Senuran Muthusamy, Khaya Zondo (captain), Cody Chetty, Sibonelo Makhanya, Calvin Savage, Robert Frylinck, Imran Tahir, Athi Maposa, Prenelan Subrayen, Okuhle Cele, Morne van Wyk, Dane Vilas.