Wednesday, April 17, 2024

CSA: Champions pose big challenge for Dolphins

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Photo Credit: Cricket South Africa

Hollywoodbets Dolphins coach Imraan Khan believes the double defending 4-Day Domestic Series champions Imperial Lions will test their early season credentials when the 2020/21 campaign begins in Durban on Monday.

The visitors from the north will be aiming for a strong start in their pursuit of a third successive first-class crown.

The opening round of fixtures will also mark a return to play for the first time in more than seven months after the COVID-19 pandemic brought an abrupt haul to the previous term when it struck back in March.

“Everyone is excited and looking forward to it,” Khan said. “It’s going to be an interesting season, a lot different to what we’ve experienced in the past.

“The pre-season was long, but it was good. It allowed us to prepare in a different way and we all coped with it very nicely.”

The already strong Lions team have been strengthened significantly in the off-season, especially in their bowling ranks where they have brought in Lutho Sipamla, Sisanda Magala and Tladi Bokako. Wesley Marshall has also been drafted in from the Momentum Multiply Titans.

“They’re a strong team and one that has won the competition back-to-back,” Khan stated. “So this will be a big challenge for us and certainly one we’re excited about. We played some good cricket against them last year in both competitions, so it’s going to be a good contest.”

The Dolphins themselves have added some good depth to their squad, which includes signing Keegan Petersen, Ottniel Baartman and Ruan de Swardt.

Khan adds: “I think we’ve recruited quite nicely and I’m looking forward to see how they get on. The new guys will certainly add strength to the squad. It now boils down to playing well. You want to start any campaign positively, so that is the intention as well for this season and then we can hopefully build on that momentum through the campaign.”

All the Proteas (bar those at the IPL) are available for the opening round, meaning the competition will be significantly boosted.

Lions coach Wandile Gwavu is also looking ahead to a positive start, although he insists that there is no added pressure that comes from being winners for the last two years.

“The pressure is always there, the only thing we can do about it is embrace it,” he explained. “And I think it is that same pressure that drives us to always be better and to seek improvement season in and season out.

“Without that pressure I don’t think there will be that enjoyment and kick or extra push. So we like the pressure and we wouldn’t want it any other way.”

Gwavu says his players have been excellent in training over the last seven days and cannot wait to dig in at Hollywoodbets Kingsmead Stadium.

“There’s been a good focus at practice this past week,” he concluded. “I think we’ve put in quite a lot of hard work and there’s a good sense and feeling around the group. The guys are ready for the season and they are excited, but at the same time determined to get on with the job starting with that first match of the season.”

The Dolphins squad for 2020/21 is:

Keegan Petersen, Robbie Fylinck, Khaya Zondo, Senuran Muthusamy, Sarel Erwee, Keshav Maharaj, Prenelen Subrayen, Ottneil Baartman, Marques Ackerman, Grant Roelofsen, David Miller, Daryn Dupavillon, Kerwin Mungroo, Eathan Bosch, Ruan de Swardt, Mangaliso Moshele, Keith Dudgeon, Lifa Ntnazi, Andile, Mogakane, Andile Phehlukwayo.

The Lions squad for 2020/21 is:

Bjorn Fortuin, Wiaan Mulder, Malusi Siboto, Dominic Hendricks, Reeza Hendricks, Beuran Hendricks, Kagiso Rabada, Eldred, Hawken, Lutho Sipamla, Kagiso Rapulana, Nono Pongolo, Ryan Rickleton, Dwaine Pretorius, Wesley Marshall, Delano Potgieter, Joshua Richards, Sisanda Magala, Rassie van der Dussen, Tladi Bokako, Aaron Phangiso, Nicky van den Bergh, Temba Bavuma.

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