Saturday, January 10, 2009

Odds against Dolphins win after Sanath leaves for Dhaka

THE KZN Dolphins will meet the table-topping Diamond Eagles in the second semi-final of the MTN Domestic Championships tomorrow.

The winner will go through to Friday’s final against the winners of last night’s encounter at SuperSport Centurion, which saw the star studded Titans entertaining the Cobras.

That the Dolphins have regrouped in time to get into the semis is no small feat, in a season that was descending into mediocrity.

The form of Imraan Khan at the top of the order has been one of the few consistencies of a season that may yet be re-ignited by a winning end to the 45 over competition.

Khan has outshone even the mercurial Sri Lankan Sanath Jayasuriya, who is currently in Dhaka.

The other significant plus for the KZN franchise has been captain Ahmed Amla’s steady form with the bat. He and Khan hold the key for a Dolphins line-up, which has considerably deep batting, with talented all-rounder Morne van Vuuren having batted as low as nine.

What the Dolphins have to improve on mostly is their bowling, particularly in the powerplays. This is perhaps where Jayasuriya’s golden arm will be sorely missed, as his wily darters worked well at the death of several innings.

The Dolphins have suffered severely in this regard, with the visit to Potchefstroom to face the Lions earlier this season a brutal example.

Jean Symes churned out a classy 146 while Vaughn van Jaarsveld bludgeoned a 56- ball century.

With the experienced Johann Louw also missing, the likes of Yusuf Abdullah, Jon Kent and Ugasen Govender will be under pressure to foil a formidable Eagles batting card, which includes the hard-hitting Loots Bosman, Morne van Wyk and the vastly improved Dean Elgar.

The Eagles spin duo of Con de Lange and Thandi Tshabalala will also pose a threat, and the form of stalwart HD Ackermann in the middle overs will be crucial.

The Eagles have already beaten Amla’s men twice this season, the first a five-wicket cruise at Kingsmead.

All in all, with home-ground advantage, a better team on paper and two victories over their opponents this season, the odds are heavily stacked towards an Eagles triumph.

But as Dolphins convenor of selectors Jay Naidoo explained this week, form counts for very little when it comes to the business end of a knockout tournament.

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