DURBAN – The Dolphins trained long and hard on Tuesday morning, as they readied themselves for their clash against the visiting Warriors on Wednesday evening.
The intensity of the session suggested that the men from KZN are intent on moving on swiftly from Sunday’s last-gasp defeat to the Lions.
All-rounder Andile Phehlukwayo and skipper Khaya Zondo were involved in their own, private battle in the nets – Zondo bowling what he maintains are a variety of beguiling spinners, and Phehlukwayo adamant that every other ball would have gone for six.
They even stayed beyond the team net, animated in discussions between balls.
Imran Tahir, the Proteas leg-spinner, was also in full voice against the big-hitting Phehlukwayo, cleaning him up with a wrong ’un that gave the veteran much satisfaction.
Certainly, if the Dolphins are hurting after Sunday’s near-miss, they have channelled their energy the right way.
There was a spring in the step at training, and coach Grant Morgan and Zondo maintain that they are still confident of their chances in the RamSlam competition.
“I couldn’t ask for any more from my players on Sunday,” Zondo explained.
“We fought hard, right to the end, and we managed to fight our way back into a position where we could have won the match. That’s all we ask; for each and every player to give 100%. Beyond that, I can’t ask for more.”
Zondo also pointed out that the Dolphins had still managed to breach 160 with the bat, even though he felt the batsmen had endured an off-day. Until Sunday, it had been the top-order that had provided the fireworks.
“I say we had a batting performance, and still found a way to get to 168. If that is on a bad day, then I know we are looking at 190-plus on a good day. Batters play the situation, and the top-order can play with a bit more freedom, because they know the middle-order can also do the job,” he encouraged.
They are feeling upbeat about meeting the Warriors, too, as they feel there is a score to settle.
“We respect the Warriors, and they’re a side that have punched above their weight in the last few years,” Morgan said of the opposition.
“So, they deserved to reach the final last year. But I truly feel if they come with 100% and we come with 100%, and with the personnel we have on deck – and this is with all due respect – then we should man-for-man be able to have them. That’s not taking away from them, it’s just the honest truth.”
No one can accuse Morgan of not believing in his players ahead of a game against the bottom-of-the-table side from Port Elizabeth.
Of course, the Warriors are in the midst of change off the field, with Malibongwe Maketa soon to relinquish his post to become the Proteas’ assistant coach.
That should see former Dolphins batsman Rivash Gobind take charge of the franchise, even on a temporary basis.
“I’m very happy for him. He’s a great guy, and it was sad to see him go from our structures,” Morgan said of Gobind.
“When he moved down to PE, he actually rented out a place from my mother. It’s funny how the game works out, but it is always good to know that people can go out there and make a name for themselves. I wish him all the best,” he added.
Of course, the kind words and gestures will be put on hold on Wednesday night as both teams look to get their tournament ambitions back on track. If the weather plays along, it is anticipated that the Kingsmead surface will be one full of runs, given the heat over the weekend in Durban.
For those spectators who entered Kingsmead on Friday, those tickets will still be valid for entry for Wednesday’s match.
Play at Kingsmead starts at 6pm, and the match will be broadcast on SuperSport 2.
Squads For Kingsmead
Dolphins (from): Khayelihle Zondo (captain), Sarel Erwee, Morne van Wyk, Dane Vilas, Sibonelo Makhanya, Andile Phehlukwayo, Robert Frylinck, Keshav Maharaj, Prenelan Subrayen, Athi Maposa, Eathan Bosch, Mthokozisi Shezi, Imran Tahir.
Warriors (from): Jon-Jon Smuts (captain), Colin Ackermann, Andrew Birch, Gihahn Cloete, Colin Ingram, Christiaan Jonker, Sisanda Magala, Lesiba Ngoepe, Anrich Nortjé, Jerry Nqolo, Solo Nqweni, Kelly Smuts, Yaseen Vallie, Basheer Walters.