Maharaj marshals Dolphins into one-day final
Keshav Maharaj has captained the Dolphins into the One-Day Cup (ODC) final against the Warriors at Kingsmead on Friday.
The left-arm spinner stood in for regular skipper Khaya Zondo, who is part of South Africa’s squad for the one-day series against India that starts in Durban on Thursday, and engineered his team’s 49-run win over the Cobras in their semi-final at Newlands on Wednesday.
Going into the semi, Maharaj’s captaincy experience amounted to a Lancashire League T20 game and four more in the Africa T20 Cup.
But he proved a calm leader under pressure, finding a way to defend the Dolphins’ mediocre total of 230. In reply, the Cobras slithered to a halt at 181 in 46.3 overs.
The Dolphins forgot how to swim the moment Sarel Erwee and Morne van Wyk were parted in the 25th over after putting 126 on the board for the first wicket.
Van Wyk tried to cut left-arm spinner George Linde and dragged the ball onto his stumps to go for 62, which he scored off 72 balls wth six fours and a six.
That was the start of a flood that swept away all 10 wickets for 104 runs in 25.2 overs.
Erwee stayed until the 46th over, when he was seventh out trying to hook Mthiwekhaya Nabe and instead blooped a catch to the wicketkeeper.
Eight fours came off Erwee’s bat, and he scored his 93 off 135 balls.
The Dolphins’ next highest score was Senuran Muthusamy’s 20, and of the others only Maharaj and Robbie Frylinck escaped the single figures.
Vernon Philander was the tightest of the Cobras bowlers with his return of 0/22 from seven overs, while Nabe claimed 3/39 and the Danes, Paterson and Piedt, took two each.
Aviwe Mgijima did his bit by taking two fine catches — the first off off-spinner Piedt’s bowling and diving full length at slip to remove Sibonelo Makhanya, and then a well-judged running grab at deep midwicket to remove Maharaj and earn one of Nabe’s wickets.
Disappointed as the visitors would have been with their failure to capitalise on the perfect start to their innings, they refused to throw in the towel.
Frylinck and Mthokozisi Shezi kept the pressure firmly on during the first nine overs, in which the Cobras crashed to 21/3.
They claimed a wicket each in their opening spells and the third fell when Kyle Verreynne was run out — but only after the umpires needed umpteen replays to ascertain whether Dane Vilas had broken the wicket legally before his dive took all three stumps out of the ground.
Opener Zubayr Hamza and Philander — batting at No. 5 — nudged the initiative back the Cobras’ way with a stand of 36.
But off-spinner Prenelan Subrayen pulled things back for the Dolphins by dismissing both five balls apart to reduce the Cobras to 57/5 in the 18th over.
Then Mgijima and Piedt reeled in the game with a stand of 40, and Piedt and Linde put on 29.
But the required runrate crept above seven after 35 overs. And although Piedt showed proper gumption for his 54 and several lusty blows were struck by the denizens of the lower order, Maharaj’s men had answers for all the questions asked of them.
Frylinck took 3/21 with Shezi, Subrayen and Muthusamy claiming two wickets each.