VKB Knights coach Nicky Boje is expecting the Sunfoil Series to go right down to the wire after the latest set of results and is looking forward to getting some cricket under his team’s belt when they welcome the Hollywoodbets Dolphins to Kimberley on Thursday.
The leading teams all failed to win when the competition returned to action for the first time in 2017 last weekend – the four all not helped by rain as their matches were drawn.
The only result saw the last-placed BuildNat Cape Cobras beating the bizhub Highveld Lions to close the gap on the teams above them. After the dust settled, just over 20 points separate top from bottom in what is shaping up to be an exciting climax to the four-day season.
“We can’t do much about the rain,” Boje said after their entire game against the log-leading Multiply Titans was washed out. “We needed it in the Bloemfontein area.
“Our result was good for the other teams as well. It keeps everyone quite close. There’s still four games left and really six teams all in contention, so it should make for a good last four rounds.”
Looking ahead to the meeting with the Dolphins, Boje said their first-innings batting performance will be critical at the Diamond Oval. “They are a quality side, but it comes down to us making sure we play good cricket in the first innings to try and set the game up,” he added. “That’s where our emphasis needs to be.”
The Knights are waiting on news over the availability of key duo, captain Theunis de Bruyn and fast bowler Duanne Olivier, who are with the Standard Bank Proteas, before finalising their squad.
The Dolphins have named the same squad that did duty in their weather-affected clash against the Warriors last week.
Despite only half of the match played, the Durbanites were on top in that period, which pleased their coach, Grant Morgan.
“I think that last week we managed to put in an all-round performance for the first time since we played the Warriors in the first game of the season,” he said. “We had more stability in our performance. We had good batting partnerships, good bowling partnerships and we caught well.”
Assessing the Knights, Morgan predicted that Olivier will play and was wary of the task facing his side in the Northern Cape.
“They have the fastest opening attack in the country but that isn’t something that we are unfamiliar with and we are assuming that Duane Olivier will be available for the game,” the Dolphins coach added.
“Their other strength lies in their middle-order batting. I am not sure if Theunis de Bruyn is coming back from the Proteas but we have planned for him being there but with the likes of Dave Miller, Rudi Second and Keegan Petersen it is a formidable middle order.”
Knights squad: Mbulelo Budaza, Theunis de Bruyn (captain), Marchant de Lange, Corne Dry, Michael Erlank, Patrick Kruger, David Miller, Luthando Mnyanda, Tshepo Ntuli, Duanne Olivier, Keegan Petersen, Rudi Second, Shadley van Schalkwyk, Lwandiswa Zuma.
Dolphins squad: Craig Alexander, Cody Chetty, Rabian Engelbrecht, Rob Frylinck, Sibonelo Makhanya, Senuran Muthusamy, Andile Phehlukwayo, Calvin Savage, Mthokozisi Shezi, Vaughn van Jaarsveld, Divan van Wyk, Morné van Wyk (captain), Khaya Zondo.