Dolphins players celebrate the wicket of the Titans Quinton De Kock during the 2017 T20 Ram Slam Final match. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

DURBAN – After a night to forget in the final of the T20 Challenge, the Dolphins have brushed themselves off, and are now looking to tomorrow’s One-Day Cup opener against the Cape Cobras.

Coach Grant Morgan explained that the team had sat down, drawn a line, and were ready to kick on.

“We have to bounce back from a massive disappointment. We have sat down and had a heart-to-heart talk amongst the guys. Since coming back, we have dealt with the weather again, but we have to achieve quite a lot between now and Thursday.

“And we will do that,” he emphasised yesterday.

Morgan’s skipper, Khaya Zondo, also shared his thoughts on Saturday’s performance, before looking ahead.

“When you lose like that, you are embarrassed as a player. That is going to haunt us for a while, because those replays are what they will play even next year before the next final,” he winced.

“It happens to every team, though. It happened to the Titans here, and it happened to us.

“We were very good for most of the time we got on the field. That was just the wrong performance on the wrong day. In the six games we did play, we were brilliant in five. The losses were off the last ball, we beat the Titans with a bonus point, and we smashed the opposition in our other two wins.”
Of course, it is the final that will linger longest in the memory.

That is the nature of these things, because the preamble is not nearly as important as the big day out.

Morgan, ever the pragmatist, refused to blame a lack of match practice as a reason for being shot out for just 100.

“There is no excuse for us turning up and giving the performance we did,” Morgan said. 

Gung-ho

“We actually didn’t go in gung-ho, but rather with a strategic approach to try and take them down in one, two or three phases.

“It just spiralled. It got ugly quickly,” the coach said.

“Under that microscope, I can’t say the players panicked, but they got the execution wrong. We all learnt from that. I learnt from that, because it was the biggest game I have ever been involved in.”

When you fall off the proverbial bike, they say that it is best to get back in the saddle as quickly as possible. The Dolphins are glad to have the 50-over format starting as soon as it is.

The Dolphins head into the competition without three big players, as Andile Phehlukwayo and Keshav Maharaj go on national duty, while Imran Tahir is injured.

“The players leaving will give us new challenges, but we’ve got cover.

“They are irreplaceable in many ways, especially at their best, but we have a squad for that,” Morgan chirruped.

Zondo said the lay of the land in the 50-over competition would be much altered without the Proteas, and he anticipated a far tighter contest all round.
“Teams are going to change quite a bit. Some teams will have a different look and feel, and some may get weaker, while others may be able to compete a bit more now,” Zondo pointed out.

Having reached one final this season already, the Durbanites are keen to do it again - and then turn up on the big stage.

“You know, in the T20, we improved from fifth last season to second this time. We were fourth last year in the One-Day Cup, and we will look to improve again. We are not aiming for fourth - we are aiming to be the best side in the competition,” Morgan mapped out.

The Dolphins host the Cobras at Kingsmead tomorrow afternoon.


The Mercury

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