Hollywoodbets Dolphins coach Imraan Khan admits that starting well in the more familiar conditions of Pietermaritzburg will be hugely important to their overall prospects for the 4-Day Domestic Series season when they welcome the World Sports Betting Cape Cobras to the City Oval from Monday.
Both teams have endured difficult starts to 2019/20, the hosts losing to the Momentum Multiply Titans at Centurion in round one, before just about escaping with a draw from their trip to the VKB Knights in Bloemfontein.
The visitors, meanwhile, were edged out by the Imperial Lions on a difficult Potchefstroom pitch in their competition opener, before impressing in a draw against the Titans in Benoni.
Now the two bottom-of-the-tables sides are gunning for a first win and Khan concedes that consistency will be key for his side in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands.
“I think it’s been a difficult start for us,” he said. “We’ve played good cricket in patches, but we haven’t put in a collective performance through the four days and I think that’s been the problem and the story of the first two games.
“Now that we’re home for the first time, I think we have to be on point because these games will be very important. It’s massive in terms of the competition that we start off well in Pietermaritzburg and we’re looking forward to it.”
Khan also know that facing the Cobras, one of the most successful franchises in South African cricket, will not be easy, more so because they will be hurting from their below-par start.
“They’re a very good side and they’ve played really good four-day cricket over the past few years,” he added. “They’re consistent, they have some experienced players and that has shown with their performances over the last number of seasons.
“So it’s going to be a tough game and we’ll have to be at our best to beat them.
Cobras coach Ashwell Prince, meanwhile, watched his side came agonisingly close to nicking a win against the Titans – the Cape side falling four wickets short in the end at Willowmoore Park.
But they produced a memorable performance nonetheless in what is always a highlight fixture of the four-day calendar, with Kyle Verreynne really announcing himself as a player of pedigree thanks to twin hundreds.
“It was a game that ebbed and flowed…we were up against it early on, we then recovered brilliantly with that great partnership between the captain, Pieter Malan, and Kyle Verreynne, but then collapsed after that,” Prince stated. “Then we didn’t bowl too well in the first innings until Dane Paterson bowled that unbelievable spell to bring us back into the game and then Kyle was unbelievable in both innings.
“So overall there were lots of parts of the game that we were happy with and lots of parts that we weren’t happy with.”
Looking ahead to next week’s journey to KZN, Prince admitted it was not a happy place for the Cobras to visit, but hoped the tables will turn in round three.
“It’s going to be another tough one,” he concluded. “Obviously another away game, this time in Maritzburg. It’s a place in my experiences, maybe the Dolphins have had good results there, but I always find it very difficult to get good results there.
“Hopefully this time around it will be different and we’ll have a surface that gives both teams a chance of getting a result.”