DURBAN – The Dolphins ended 2018 in startling fashion, as they went to the Bullring and bullied the Lions onto submission.
The men from Durban got the better of a fast moving encounter, against a team laden with players from the successful Jozi Stars.
Those players had taken key roles in the Mzansi Super League, while a Dolphins-heavy Durban Heat had struggled to get going at all.
Despite that, the quick turnaround in formats was not a factor, with the Dolphins welcoming the switch to the red ball.
Skipper Khaya Zondo led demonstratively, with an excellent 114 in the first innings of 303.
It was a timely knock, and was supplemented by Andile Phehlukwayo’s sensible half-century.
Right away, the Dolphins took the game by the scruff of the neck. It was a departure from how much of the season has gone, where they have been behind the 8-ball for long periods.
They beat a Lions team that might have been nursing a Mzansi hangover, and walked away with a vital win.
“It’s funny how the game works, because I am sure that the Lions were just as motivated as we were ahead of that game,” coach Grant Morgan reflected. “We went in with a few youngsters, and they really came in with some big performances. Khaya obviously batted very well, and led from the front, and it was nice to see Andile spending time at the crease.”
With ball in hand, the likes of Keith Dudgeon, Eathan Bosch and Kerwin Mungroo delivered big performances, and kept the pressure on.
Dudgeon was in familiar territory, having played for Gauteng before. His nagging length was just the recipe on a pitch that had something for the bowlers.
The challenge for the Dolphins is to repeat that performance, against the sane opposition, at Kingsmead from Friday.
All players have had a week to recuperate, so there ought to be no shortage of motivation on both sides.
The Proteas have been removed from both squads, so the Dolphins will be without premier spinner Keshav Maharaj. In his stead, Sen Muthusamy will step in, and he has a happy knack of producing wicket-taking deliveries at this level.
The Dolphins may be fifth on the table, but they are looking optimistically into 2019.
A good start on Friday will only fan those flames of ambition.@whamzam17