Dol­phins div­ing in at the deep end against Co­bras

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - LUNGANI ZAMA

THE Dol­phins know that the star-stud­ded Cape Co­bras side that con­fronts them to­mor­row will start as the favourites, but the men from Dur­ban thrive on be­ing the un­der­dogs.

Hav­ing had a quiet fort­night af­ter the Sun­foil Se­ries, the Dol­phins stepped up their prepa­ra­tions this week, with a pair of prac­tice matches at Kingsmead on Wed­nes­day, ahead of their Ram Slam as­sault.

Though they will play their open­ing match on neu­tral ground – in the first of two matches at Cen­tu­rion – skip­per Khaya Zondo has al­ready taken his men to Pre­to­ria his term, com­ing back with a hard-fought draw.

“Both teams will know what to ex­pect from Cen­tu­rion, but it isn’t your home ground,” Zondo pointed out. “This will be a slight dis­ad­van­tage for both teams, so it will come down to the team that picks up the con­di­tions the quick­est. Who­ever can adapt will have the ad­van­tage.” Zondo’s men have suf­fered a blow with the with­drawal of Im­ran Tahir, as the Pro­teas ace un­der­goes as­sess­ment. It is still un­clear what Tahir’s ail­ment is, but nei­ther the Dol­phins nor the Pro­teas are will­ing to risk the leg-spin­ner un­til he gets the all-clear.

An­other key loss for the coastal lot is Vaughn van Jaarsveld, who is nurs­ing a back in­jury. The pow­er­ful south­paw has been in omi­nous, if not quite ruth­less touch this sea­son, and racked up five con­sec­u­tive half-centuries to start the sea­son.

His abil­ity to go through the gears is a key com­po­nent of the Dol­phins’ game-plan, and he will be missed. But, de­spite his and Tahir’s ab­sence, Zondo still has plenty of fire­power to call upon, as the Dol­phins lock horns with a team that has the likes of Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma, Faf du Plessis, JP Du­miny and Ver­non Phi­lan­der in their ranks.

“We know they have some strong play­ers, but so have we so it will be an even con­test. We are ex­cited to get out there and see how it goes.”

Zondo has main­tained this week that his men must cut out the mis­takes that cost them so dearly in the lat­ter stages of last year’s com­pe­ti­tion, and they may be bet­ter equipped to do just that this sea­son.

At the top of the or­der, Sarel Er­wee is en­joy­ing a phe­nom­e­nal sea­son, with runs in ev­ery for­mat, while Zondo him­self has proved an adept fin­isher with his un­ortho­dox man­ner at the crease, and the Co­bras will do well to be wary of Dane Vi­las, an­other who has found form.

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