DURBAN - The Dolphins are still smarting from the disappointment of their five-wicket loss to the Knights on Wednesday, but they remain upbeat about what is to come this season.
The loss, in Kimberley, was hastened by a dismal second innings with the bat, and a missed opportunity with the ball on day two, when the Knights were there for the taking at 170 for seven.
“We did go out there and look to play positive cricket, but you can’t take anything away from the Knights’ bowling effort in the second innings,” Dolphins captain Keshav Maharaj observed.
“They came out differently to how they were in our first innings, and maybe that took us a bit by surprise. It was obviously disappointing to lose eight wickets in a session, but we still felt there was a chance to defend 135,” Maharaj explained.
Again, there were chances for the Dolphins with ball in hand, but they were not clinical enough to press their advantage home. From 60-4, the hosts only lost one more wicket on the way to victory.
“When you have a team four down for 60, you expect a few more poles before the end. We have defended lower totals in the past season, so there is a bit of frustration among the boys,” the left-arm spinner confirmed.
One ray of sunshine for the Dolphins is the form shown by Sen Muthusamy with the ball, as he continued to strengthen his claims to be recognised as an all-rounder. “He has been working really hard on his bowling, and you can see the results,” Maharaj enthused.
Result: VKB @KnightsCricket 139-5, (39 overs) @Hollywoodbets Dolphins lost by 5 wickets. A disappointing day in the field for our boys but we’ll back be fighting in our next match.
Special mention to @sen_muthusamy for picking up 8 wickets in the match. #KNIvDOL #4dayseries pic.twitter.com/l6p2eVHtGF
“We stay after practice to keep working on the game, and he has absorbed a lot with the coaches he has worked with in any team he plays for. He has taken on board things that I have shared, but he has also helped me by sharing a few ideas. It is definitely not a one-way street,” the Protea said of the SA A product.
Muthusamy’s hunger to lift his bowling standards has reaped great reward, and his 5-85 in the first dig in Kimberley, as well as some crucial breakthroughs on the third afternoon, are yet another step in the right direction.
Bowlers who bat are always handy, but batsmen who can genuinely bowl are like hens’ teeth. They ease the burden on the quicks, and their value in a team is beyond words. That is the territory that Muthusamy is heading to with his left-arm spinning exploits. He is making himself indispensable.
Surveying the rest of the squad that the Dolphins have this term, Maharaj is adamant that they can challenge for silverware: “No doubt. We have a very well balanced team, with a good blend of youth and experience. It is up to us as senior players to step up a bit more, and then we will definitely be up there come the end of the season.”
For now though, they have over a week to stew on their shortcomings, before their first match at Kingsmead this season. They will lick the wounds of Kimberley, and then dust themselves off to go again. The likes of the Cobras and the Lions have made fast starts, and need to be hauled in before they get too far ahead.
The Dolphins are yet to play either of those teams, and they will be licking their lips at the prospect. The men from Durban host the Warriors from October 22, before closing out the month with a trip to Cape Town, to see about some Cobras.