DURBAN - The Dolphins host the Knights on Friday night in the RamSlam T20 Challenge and the Durbanites would have been heartened by what they saw of the men from Bloemfontein on Wednesday.
Against the world-class Titans, the Knights wilted under the constant pressure. Their bowling attack, which looks on the light side, was taken to task by a ruthless Titans top-order before Farhaan Behardien finished with the kind of flurry that Khaya Zondo has made a habit himself.
The Dolphins, with a free-scoring top three of their own, will have noted that the Knights’s new-ball pair was put under severe pressure in the PowerPlay, with Henry Davids really going after them.
Dolphins skipper Zondo explained this week that his explosive top-order is not necessarily operating with a licence to thrill, but they are experienced enough to assess what is in front of them.
“I wouldn’t say they have that licence. But the guys are able to assess the situation out there and play it accordingly,” he explained.
Morne van Wyk, the veteran opener, hammered 19 off Dane Paterson to set the tone against the Cobras, and it is that fast start that the Dolphins will be eyeing against a Knights outfit that must be smarting from the manner of their defeat in Kimberley.
Having endured a miserable time of it in last year’s competition, the Knights’ opening victory in Port Elizabeth suggested that they had turned a corner. Skipper Theunis de Bruyn and David Miller were brutal in their chase against the Warriors and, on that basis, their early meeting with the Titans was expected to be a lot closer.
In the exacting science that comes with hindsight, it appears that the Knights are still very much a work-in-progress. Their hopes are heavily pinned on two or three men playing to their potential, because things are brittle beneath the shell.
Once De Bruyn holed out on Wednesday, Miller lost his composure and the rest of the middle-order - aside from a gallant effort from Andries Gous - couldn’t keep up with the mounting rate.
That middle-order was throttled by accurate spin, and the Dolphins will look to Keshav Maharaj to do a similar job on them.
The one concern, as ever in Durban, is the weather. A cold front has blown in this week, and the playing surface has been cossetted under considerable canvas for over 48 hours now. That will surely bring the quicks into the game, especially with a 6pm start.
The Knights have the experience of Marchant de Lange and Ryan McLaren with the ball, while the erratic Shadley van Schalkwyk can swing it in the right conditions. The battle between the Knights’ attack and the Dolphins’ top-order will likely settle matters.
If the Dolphins bolt away as they did in Pretoria they may trample the back-up bowling in the latter overs. Dane Vilas looks in ominous touch, while Zondo greedily saw to it that the rest of the middle-order didn’t even get a hit in the opening game.
So, they are all champing at the bit to get involved. The Knights, stung back to reality by the outrageously stacked Titans, will know that they will not be the only team to suffer at the hands of the most efficient franchise in the country.
They will see their trip down to Durban as a chance to show that they remain a threat in the competition. As long as the weather plays along, those ingredients should serve up a most hearty battle to warm those who brave the weather and take a seat in the stands.
The match at Kingsmead will not be televised, with play set to start at 6pm.