The Nashua Dolphins go into their MTN Domestic Championship semifinal against the Gestetner Diamond Eagles at the Outsurance Oval in Bloemfontein on Sunday confident of causing an upset against the side that finished at the top of the log.
After qualifying by finishing fourth on the log, the Dolphins tackle the more fancied Eagles who finished 13 points ahead of them after the round-robin stages, without the services of Sanath Jayasuriya, who has been recalled to the Sri Lankan team for a tri-series in Dhaka and Johann Louw, who pulled a hamstring two weeks ago.
"Johann will only be available again if we reach the final. Sanath is on international duty for Sri Lanka and is highly unlikely to make the final," said Yashin Ebrahim, the Dolphins coach.
Despite these setbacks, the Dolphins are quietly confident of beating the Eagles with the squad they have. They have also introduced 21-year-old Cameron Delport to the team as a replacement for Jayasuriya. The former Westville Old Boy is a hard-hitting left-handed batsman who made his senior debut against the Warriors in Port Elizabeth last week.
"Both the experienced players will be missed. However, we have enough experience and depth in the team to compete. The boys are confident, focused and positive ahead of the big game. Barring any last-minute injuries, Cameron will open with Imraan Khan. I think he is good enough to perform at this level and gives us an extra option as a medium-pace bowler as well," Ebrahim said.
The Dolphins were well-beaten in their two pool matches against the Eagles, losing by five wickets with 11 overs to spare in Durban and by six wickets with an over to spare in Kimberley, but this does not concern Ebrahim.
"Losing both the league games to the Eagles counts for nothing. This is a one-off and anything can happen," he said.The winner of Sunday's semifinal will play the Nashua Titans, who thrashed the Western Cape Cobras by nine wickets on Friday night.