Dolphins captain Keshav Maharaj has reiterated that his top-of-the-table team still has a long way to go before they can start thinking about the One-Day Cup playoffs as they prepare to welcome the Titans to Durban on Thursday.
This despite the hosts being runaway leaders in the 50-over competition, where they lead the second-placed Lions by a substantial nine points heading into the encounter at Kingsmead. The Johannesburg-based team do have two games in hand, though.
‘We haven’t done any maths and we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves,’ the skipper, who has been called up by the Proteas for the their upcoming ODI series against Australia, stated.
‘Obviously we want to keep doing what we are doing, and we want to be ruthless in our performances to try and finish on top of the table. It will be a lovely achievement for the boys to qualify and to earn a home semi-final in the process. But we are taking it one game at a time because we know it’s a process to get to where we want to.’
Maharaj, the competition’s standout performer and leading wicket-taker, will lead his side on Thursday before heading for national duty.
The Dolphins, who must still play the Lions twice, have undoubtedly been the form team of the competition, winning five out of their six games.
Their position, according to the captain, is a massive driving force among the squad to try and maintain their current spot.
‘I wouldn’t say we feel pressure on the log because we keep reminding ourselves that every game is a new game and we are starting this competition from zero,’ Maharaj explained.
‘I think it’s more a confidence booster being at the top; at the same time you can’t take anything for granted going forward.’
The Titans, who are the defending champions, will arrive on the east coast in fourth place with two wins from four matches, meaning they too have two matches in hand on the leaders.
Maharaj believes his team must be wary of the visitors’ strong batting lineup – more so now that South Africa batsman and last season’s star of the tournament, Aiden Markram, is back from injury.
‘Their experience and batting lineup is quite a strong one and so I think that is the aspect of their game that we need to find ways to sort of counter that,’ he added.
Like the opposition, Titans coach Mandla Mashimbyi is also not too concerned about the semi-finals at this stage of the competition.
He just wants to see his team, who are playing their first match since 12 February, play good cricket.
‘We don’t like to look too far ahead, so a game-by-game approach is how I like to look at things,’ he added. ‘For now all I see are the opponents we are playing next – in this instance the Dolphins. That is the most important game as it stands.
‘Then in a few weeks, hopefully we would have won enough games to help us challenge or even put us into the semi-finals and final. It’s a simple way of looking at things.’
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