Dolphins spinner Imran Tahir celebrates with teammates after taking the wicket of Cobras batsman Pieter Malan in a recent match. Photo: Chris Ricco/BackpagePix
 The Dolphins, still kicking their Warriors-inflicted wounds, face the ultimate domestic challenge today , when they host the Titans in Pietermaritzburg.

The Momentum One-Day Cup table shows the gulf that exists between Pretoria and the rest of the country, and the Dolphins have looked to measure themselves against the nation’s capital all season.

Ahead of Friday’s dismal showing at home against the Warriors, Grant Morgan had been upbeat about where his team were at. Wins on the road, some form from key players, and the return from absence of others suggested they were ready to confirm their home semi-final ambitions.

But, on Friday, they were brought back to earth with a thumping seven-wicket loss to an organised, but not frightful, Warriors side. The Dolphins, apart from Dane Vilas and Khaya Zondo, didn’t bat very well. They also didn’t bowl very well, either, and their fielding left a lot to be desired. In short, then, it was a night to quickly forget. And forget it they must, because the Titans were busy thrashing the Knights while they floundered.

The scary thing about the Titans is that, despite as many as nine players on the Test squad roster, they are still steamrolling franchises with brutal efficiency.

They are busy unearthing new stars, like Tony de Zorzi, who helped himself to a maiden List A century in Kimberley.

The left-hander looked the part, too, and is just one of several the Dolphins will have to put a lid on.

The evergreen Farhaan Behardien is priming himself for national duty, as too is wrist spinner Tabraiz Shamsi. The left-armer is familiar with The Oval in Maritzburg, as it is the place he fell in love with the game again.

Shamsi would love nothing more than to rip the Titans to victory in front of familiar faces, and also boost his claims for a place in the Proteas ODI squad. He hasn’t bowled better domestically, and the Dolphins can’t afford to let him settle. The one area which the Dolphins may look to exploit is a youthful Titans attack, who could be placed under pressure with a fast start from Sarel Erwee and Morné van Wyk. Both openers missed out against the Warriors, and the rest of the team looked rudderless without the usual platform.

The Dolphins have to quickly gather themselves, as the Cobras are playing good cricket again, and they wouldn’t dare risk losing another home semi-final to the Durbanites.

The Titans, meanwhile, will be keen to finish off a very profitable road trip with yet another full bag of points. They will take some stopping. In today’s other match, the Knights host the Cape Cobras.

Sunday Tribune

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