DURBAN - “We are like the Pakistan of South African cricket. If anything is going to happen, it usually revolves around us,” Dolphins coach Grant Morgan said of his side, as they head into a crunch week in the RAM Slam T20 Challenge.
The Dolphins had a weekend to forget, by all accounts, as they were again rained out at home, and then lost out to the Warriors by a solitary run.
“Rain-outs, hat-tricks, tight boundary calls, last-ball drama - we have had it all this season,” Morgan reasoned.
That much is certainly true, and one wonders what will happen this week. In the loss to the Warriors, Yaseen Vallie’s save on the mid-wicket fence looked like it could have been four, with his foot tight on the boundary fence, but after several replays, the match officials deemed it a two instead of four.
Had that call gone the other way, those two runs could have been the difference. Then again, the Dolphins could have walked away from St George’s Park with a tie, instead of the narrowest of defeats.
Keshav Maharaj and Robbie Frylinck needed nine off the final two deliveries from Andrew Birch. Frylinck, striking it well at that point, smeared the penultimate ball to long-on but, somehow, the experienced pair neglected to try and run two.
That would have left the door open for a tie, at least, but by settling for a single, they conceded the match with a ball to spare. That Maharaj then spanked the final ball of the match for six would have added to their annoyance.
No margin for error
It was a brain freeze, and the small margins that have crept into an already disjointed campaign may add up to really cost the Dolphins. This week, with three matches to play in five days, is absolutely crucial.
There is no margin for error, especially with the scramble for semi-final places having become so frantic. Both the Lions (who the Dolphins host on Wednesday) and the Knights (Friday) are in the melting pot, while the Titans (Sunday) are the freight train no one has been able to stop.
The Dolphins, then, would far rather settle their fate before they head into Sunday’s clash with arguably the most potent domestic franchise in world cricket.
“I feel that if we click, someone will get hurt,” Morgan warned. “But now we have to click,” he added soberly.
They are nearly out of time, so if the weather plays up again, they will feel it more than ever. Their top-order will have to find their feet again, and the middle-order needs to better soak up the pressure moments.
It is a big week, whichever way you look at it, but Morgan remains upbeat about his team’s chances.
“I am looking forward to it. Who knows what will happen next. We have been tested, in many ways, and we have to think that we are stronger for it,” he said.
"We are still in it, and that is very exciting for me. The guys know exactly what they have to do, and I am backing them 100%.”