Hollywoodbets Dolphins coach Grant Morgan is expecting another tough early-season Sunfoil Series assignment for his team when they come up against reigning champions the VKB Knights at Sahara Stadium Kingsmead in Durban from Thursday.
The host secured a credible draw against the Multiply Titans in their opening match of the campaign last week, a match they looked likely to lose after the opening three days.
Morgan wants to take the positives from the draw in Centurion into their first home game of the season.
“We are really proud of what we achieved on the last day, especially from 27 for three,” he said. “I think what we have to address is why 27 for three? Why 317 in the first innings? And we know why.
“Good partnerships and good contributions, but a lack of a big partnership and an individual score in the first innings and then a cluster of wickets in the second innings. So those are the things we’ll hope to avoid against the Knights.”
The Titans ended runners-up last season have been one of the strongest teams in the competition during recent seasons. Morgan believes it is better to be playing the top sides early in the campaign. “It’s good to be playing the two teams that were fighting it out for the title last year in our first two games this year,” he added. “We see it as a big challenge to play the two championship teams up front because it really tests us and gives us an opportunity to see where we’re at.
“We respect the Knights, like we respected the Titans last week and we’re expecting a tough game again at Kingsmead.”
Three players that were part of the Hollywoodbets KwaZulu-Natal Inland Africa T20 Cup-winning team at the weekend are in the Dolphins squad - Sarel Erwee, Athi Maposa and Kerwin Mungroo. Andile Phehlukwayo and Keshav Maharaj are unavailable due to their Standard Bank Proteas commitments.
Knights coach Nicky Boje was happy with the way the champions began the campaign despite failing to get over the line against the Cobras in Bloemfontein.
“I'm very pleased with the performances of the players in the first game, there were a lot of positives to take out of it,” he said. “The wicket did get quite flat and it was hard work, but the guys stuck to it and we were the team on top for most of the game.”
Looking ahead to the challenge the Dolphins will pose, the Knights boss conceded it will be tough work as always against the Durbanites.
“They’re always a tough side to play against. They’ve got some very good individuals and they’re playing well as a team, so it’s going to be a tough game and we’re looking forward to it,” he added.
Pite van Biljon will lead the Knights this week after Theunis de Bruyn reported for national duty. Also out for the same reason is Duanne Olivier.
The Dolphins squad is: Sarel Erwee, Senuran Muthusamy, Vaughn van Jaarsveld, Cody Chetty, Sibonelo Makhanya, Khayelihle Zondo (capt), Morne van Wyk, Robert Frylinck, Calvin Savage, Mthokozisi Shezi, Prenelan Subrayen, Athi Maposa, Kerwin Mungroo.
The Knights squad is: Ottneil Baartman, Mbulelo Budaza, Werner Coetsee, Corne Dry, Eddie Leie, David Miller, Luthando Mnyanda, Grant Mokoena, Keegan Petersen, Patrick Kruger, Rudi Second, Pite van Biljon (capt), Shadley van Schalkwyk.