February 8, 2002

Dolphins give WP a lesson in Standard Bank Cup final

The KwaZulu-Natal Dolphins skipped past a couple of showers and the Western Province defences to retain the Standard Bank Cup by 28 runs in a disappointingly one-sided final at Kingsmead on Friday night.

After veteran wicketkeeper Errol Stewart had lifted the Dolphins to a sizeable 223 for six with a blistering 53 off just 39 balls, WP never quite managed to find any kind of momentum, slipping to 103 for seven at one point before recovering slightly to be 195 for nine at the end.

It was, unquestionably, the Dolphins' night as they outplayed a Province team which managed, curiously, to be both a batsman and a bowler short. The Dolphins found the going difficult in the early stages on a pitch which occasionally stopped on them, but Dale Benkenstein's solid, unbeaten 77 and a furious assault by Stewart gave the home side a defendable total.

Stewart's wonderfully-judged hitting eventually made all the difference between the two sides. KZN had moved steadily, but a little ponderously to 162 for five off 38 overs when rain brought a temporary halt to the innings for a second time.

There was a third stoppage, but this time it was Stewart's fault after he hit Alan Dawson over midwicket, onto the roof of the old grandstand and out into NMR Avenue and the night.

Stewart and Benkenstein added 83 in just on seven overs for the sixth wicket as WP found themselves unable to stem the flow of runs.

The initial advantage had been with the visitors after Neil Johnson had won the toss and asked the Dolphins to bat, but Stewart and Benkenstein's late flurry took the game away from WP.

This became more and more evident as WP lost two early wickets to Ross Veenstra and Nixon McLean even before Andrew Tweedie began a nine-over spell that brought him four for 33. His second scalp was perhaps his most important when he had man of the series Graeme Smith caught at square leg by Doug Watson and from there on WP slid steadily into deeper trouble.

There was a 51 from Andrew Puttick while Dawson (52 not out) and Roger Telemachus added 56 off 47 balls for the ninth wicket before the end. But all this really amounted to was to delay the inevitable as the Dolphins, unbeaten through the season, again proved themselves the best limited overs team in the country for the second year running.