HOLLYWOODBETS DOLPHINS coach Grant Morgan believes that handling pressure moments could be key to deciding who wins the Sunfoil Series ahead of their clash against the Multiply Titans starting at the City Oval in Pietermaritzburg on Thursday.
One of the tightest ever South African four-day seasons is heading into its penultimate round this week with the second-placed hosts just two points ahead of their third-placed visitors, who are also the defending champions.
The pair trail the log-leading VKB Knights by less than 10 points, while only 20 points separate the top side from bottom-placed bizhub Highveld Lions in what is shaping up to be a photo finish.
“It’s everything on the line for all the teams going into these final two games,” Morgan said. “Getting down to the wire now we need to manage the pressure situations and make the right calls on and off the pitch.”
The Durban side had a bye last weekend after two consecutive draws from rain-affected games. They were top of the charts going into round eight, but slipped to second when the Knights emphatically dispatched the Warriors.
“We were disappointed with how the game two weeks ago panned out and with so much time lost to the weather; the only positive that we could take from it was that we were the side pushing for a result,” Morgan added.
“This week we are going up against a strong Titans side and they will be coming here to get a win following their defeat to the Cobras – who are putting some big pressure on all the other teams now.
“This week is going to be just as tough as all the other games.”
The Dolphins have selected a similar squad to the one that did duty against the Knights. Craig Alexander, Cody Chetty and Prenelan Subrayen join the same XI that featured in the last game. Their opponents, the Titans, suffered one of the upsets of the season when they went down to the BuildNat Cape Cobras in Centurion last weekend.
Coach Mark Boucher has shouldered much of the responsibility for the result. “I don’t mind taking the blame for the last game,” he said. “I always said that if there was going to be a time when we could take a gamble by playing aggressive cricket then it was against the Cobras because we didn’t feel they were going to jump ahead of us on the log.
“We started well and then I’m not sure what happened. Maybe we got a bit ahead of ourselves, maybe the wires were a bit tangled between myself and the players, but we’ve spoken about it and hopefully we’ll get it right heading into the next game.”
But the Titans boss is confident they can still defend their title should they manage victory in KwaZulu-Natal this weekend.
“We’re still in with a chance and a good win will throw us back right into the mix again,” Boucher added. “We just need to do things the right way by being aggressive and also setting a base first of all to build on.”
Promising young batsman Rivaldo Moonsamy has been added to the Titans squad.
Dolphins squad: Craig Alexander, Cody Chetty, Rabian Engelbrecht, Rob Frylinck, Keshav Maharaj, Sibonelo Makhanya, Senuran Muthusamy, Calvin Savage, Prenelan Subrayen, Mthokozisi Shezi, Vaughn van Jaarsveld, Divan van Wyk, Morne van Wyk (captain), Khaya Zondo.
Titans squad: Junior Dala, Dean Elgar, Heinrich Klaasen, Heino Kuhn, Aiden Markram, Grant Mokoena, Rivaldo Moonsamy, Rowan Richards, Malusi Siboto, Henry Davids (captain), Jonathan Vandiar, Shaun von Berg, David Wiese.
HEAD TO HEAD – Hollywoodbets Dolphins v Multiply Titans
Matches Played 24
Dolphins Win 06
Titans Win 07