Dolphins coach Imraan Khan has attributed fighting spirit and consistency as two standout points for his team from the recently concluded 2019-20 season.
The KwaZulu-Natal franchise ended a near 20-year drought for their first 50-over outright trophy when they won the One-Day Cup.
The title came after the season was prematurely curtailed due to Covid-19. With the Dolphins having topped the regular-season table, they were adjudged overall champions ahead of the Lions.
It capped an impressive maiden year as head coach for Khan, who has subsequently earned a new two-year deal along with his assistants, Quinton Friend and Mduduzi Mbatha.
However, things were not all smooth sailing for the trio. They had started out the season without a win from their first five matches of the 4-Day Domestic Series – three of those games also ending in losses.
That left heavy pressure on Khan and company, but they then rallied in the new year to turn the tables dramatically with back-to-back wins and nearly a third to stay in contention for the title with two rounds to play.
First-class cricket then took a back seat due to the one-day action, before the season was suspended in mid-March.
‘I think if you look at the campaign holistically, then guys stood up at different times to get us through matches and over the line, so it was a collective effort,’ Khan reflected. ‘I think even in the games we lost, they were really close and hard-fought games and those are all positives signs to look back on.
‘We played as a team and the spirit and camaraderie in the squad was outstanding. I think in terms of cricket, we played consistently throughout. To win a trophy topped it off.’
Some of the standout players for the Dolphins over the season were Grant Roelofsen and Marques Ackerman in the red-ball competition, with both scoring over 500 runs, while Prenelan Subrayen ended as the leading wicket-taker with 38 wickets in just seven games.
In the One-Day Cup, Proteas spinner Keshav Maharaj was supreme with the ball and as captain as the Durban-based team finished trumps.
Khan continued: ‘I think it was a very good campaign overall. Obviously, we had Grant Roelofsen who was excellent for us. I think from a batting perspective he really shone through. He’s a young player and has a big role for us in the future.
‘From a bowling point of view, Keshav Maharaj was an outstanding bowler and we all know the type of qualities he possesses.’
The 50-over title meant the Dolphins had for a second time in three seasons been crowned winners after they shared the 2017-18 prize with the Warriors.
Barring that shared trophy, the last time they took sole ownership of the one-day crown was before the franchise era and way back in 2001-02 when Dale Benkenstein was captain.
Khan, who had not yet played first-class cricket at that time, also shared some of his thoughts on his first season as a head coach. He had previously served as assistant to Grant Morgan, whom he replaced at the end of 2018-19.
‘As a management team I think we’ve done our best this season,’ the 36-year-old concluded. ‘I think we showed some good stuff.
‘It wasn’t the best of starts to the four-day campaign. But then we managed to turn the corner in the new year, and I think from there the results speak for themselves.
‘I really enjoyed it and I think it was a successful year.’
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