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Although they have the least impressive record of the four semifinalists, the Dolphins will be eager to make the most of their opportunity when they take on the Titans in the second semifinal of the MTN40 cricket competition in Centurion on Sunday.
Imraan Khan’s Dolphins only sneaked into the top four with a win in their final round robin game against the Titans last weekend in Pietermaritzburg and they will look for another match winning performance against the defending champions.
Their records, though, could hardly be more different. The Titans secured their berth in the top four long before the final league matches were played, racking up seven wins in nine matches, and two no results, before their final loss allowed the Dolphins to qualify for the knockout stages.
The Dolphins, on the other hand, won only three of their 10 first round matches and they know they will have to lift their game to match the Titans at home.
The KwaZulu-Natal franchise, however, have little to lose and will take a certain amount of momentum with them into the semifinal.
Proteas batsman Hashim Amla returns to the Dolphins squad to bolster that department, but seamer Yusuf Abdulla is still out with a groin injury.
“Kyle Nipper, the left-arm spinner who was drafted into the team against the Titans (last week), retains his place after an impressive performance while Yusuf Abdulla is still suffering from a groin injury and was not considered for selection. He will be out for about three weeks,” said Jay Naidoo, manager of playing affairs at the KZN Cricket Union.
They’ll be up against one of the most successful franchises in the system, a team who not only won the same competition last year, albeit in a slightly different format, but who are also well accustomed to performing in the pressure situations of knockout matches.
The Titans will have Proteas players AB de Villiers and Morne Morkel to strengthen their side and they will be determined not to throw away the success achieved in the league phase of the competition.
A one-off knockout game does make it something of a lottery, but the Titans have the players to handle the situation and it will take a supreme effort from the Dolphins to knock them off their perch.
Titans squad: Pierre Joubert (capt), Farhaan Behardien, Gulam Bodi, AB de Villiers, Francois du Plessis, Paul Harris, Heino Kuhn, Ethy Mbhalati, Albie Morkel, Morne Morkel, Jacques Rudolph, Blake Snijman, Roelof van der Merwe, Basheer Walters
Dolphins squad: Imraan Khan (capt), Hashim Amla, Loots Bosman, Ahmed Amla, Dale Benkenstein, Pierre de Bruyn, Daryn Smit, Andrew Hall, Johann Louw, Kyle Abbott, David Miller, Alfonso Thomas, Kyle Nipper.
Source: SuperSport – 22 January 2010
AB de Villiers survived two television reviews and an apparent umpiring mistake as he and Mark Boucher stretched South Africa’s lead on the third day of the fourth and final Test against England at the Wanderers Stadium on Saturday.
South Africa were 324 for five at lunch, a lead of 144.
De Villiers (43 not out) and Boucher (51 not out) put on an unbeaten 89 for the sixth wicket after three wickets fell early in the day.
Only two runs had been added when overnight batsmen Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis were dismissed in successive overs, to be followed by JP Duminy.
At that stage South Africa were only 55 runs ahead and with a new ball due within seven overs England appeared to have clawed their way back into the match.
Just seven runs into his partnership with Boucher, De Villiers, on 11, was given out, caught at backward short leg off Graeme Swann, by umpire Tony Hill. De Villiers immediately sought a review and won a reprieve from television umpire Daryl Harper when replays showed the ball hit his forearm.
When he had 24, De Villiers was again given out by Hill, this time leg before wicket, when he padded up against Swann.
Again De Villiers sought Harper’s intervention and replays showed the ball was missing the stumps. The batsman was doubly fortunate because the ball spun back from his pad and rolled against the stumps without disturbing the bails.
England’s miseries with the review system continued when they squandered their last remaining review on an attempt to win an lbw decision for Swann against Boucher, only for De Villiers, on 41, to be given not out by umpire Steve Davis when replays showed clearly the ball had gone off the inside edge of his bat from bowler Ryan Sidebottom to wicketkeeper Matt Prior.
It emerged that England had asked the International Cricket Council to reinstate the review they had lost on Friday when Graeme Smith survived early on the way to a century through what they believe was a mistake by Harper.
But no response had been received in time to seek a review of the De Villiers not out decision.
Source: AFP – January 16, 2010
Should Ashwell Prince open the batting in the must-win final Test against England starting on Thursday at the Wanderers? The answer to that question is probably No. Should Ashwell Prince be opening the batting at all? The answer to that question is also No. And that is more what concerns me.
Prince is fighting to save his career at the moment, after being one of South Africa’s most prolific batsmen over the past three years. The Warriors left-hander was hugely successful in the middle-order, averaging 45.91, before his thumb injury in Australia and subsequent move up the order. He has also scored a Test century against every Test-playing nation bar Sri Lanka.
And how do the Proteas thank their previous vice-captain for his services? They toss him into the deep end without a paddle.
Yes, Prince performed admirably when he scored 150 on his debut as an opener against Australia, but surely there was no long-term thinking involved in that decision, especially with Prince having no previous experience of opening the batting.
Would it not have made more cricketing sense to open with AB de Villiers? Yes, De Villiers was in the middle of a purple patch and also scored 0 in that very match at Newlands from the No.5 position, but he is the only one of the current Proteas top six, besides Graeme Smith, of course, who has experience of opening the batting at Test match level.
He actually scored his maiden Test century in the previous home series against England in 2004-05 at Centurion as an opener after missing out by three runs in the first innings.
The Proteas brains trust have a valid argument that De Villiers averages 48.91 when he bats in the middle-order compared to his 36.14 as an opener but it must remembered that De Villiers’s 35 innings, which included three centuries, facing the new ball was during the fledgling stages of his Test career. It only makes sense that his career graph would improve with experience.
It just seems strange that South Africa would risk an untested opener in Prince when an experienced one in De Villiers, who has done the job at Test and franchise level before, was available.
South Africa are on the hunt for their next wicket-keeper because of the thought process that De Villiers cannot be burdened with both tasks as it will affect his batting. Surely then, if such concessions are made on his behalf, he should be given other responsibilities such as opening the batting. Instead, Prince has been tasked with the responsibility and now finds his career in a crisis.
De Villiers and Smith at the top would also re-establish a right-left combination, which always disrupts the line and lengths of new-ball bowlers. If the argument is that De Villiers is too attacking, just glance around the world to see who is opening for the top Test nations in the world at the moment.
India have the destroyer-in-chief Virender Sehwag, while his partner Gautam Gambhir is no snail in terms of strike-rate. Likewise Sri Lanka have the impressive Tillekeratne Dilshan and the broad bat of Shane Watson faces the new ball for Australia.
Prince may prosper at the Wanderers but it just seems an injustice that one player has to be placed under such pressure when another is allowed to remain in his comfort zone.
Source: IOL.co.za – January 13, 2010 / ZAAHIER ADAMS