Picture: 123RF/RICHARD THOMAS
Picture: 123RF/RICHARD THOMAS

Dolphins coach Imraan Khan and his Titans counterpart, Mandla Mashimbyi, are both determined to end the season with a bang when they battle it out for the 4-Day Domestic Series title in a five-day final starting in Durban from Thursday.

The match at the Kingsmead Stadium draws the curtain on what started out as a hugely uncertain campaign that took place under the Covid-19 cloud. It is also a game that will end the franchise era in SA with a return to an expanded provincial-style format from next term.

The Dolphins will be lining up in their third final of the season‚ the first time any team has achieved this feat in the franchise era‚ against a team that has been one of the most successful during the same period.

The KwaZulu-Natal outfit qualified for the Momentum One-Day Cup final earlier in the year and shared the title with the Lions on account of the weather‚ while they also made the T20 Challenge final where they lost to the same opposition.

But they now enter the first-class decider as the form team after winning back-to-back games and their coach is looking forward to it.

“Preparations have been good and the guys have worked hard. We’ve had some great sessions so far this week and the guys are all excited and ready for the final‚” said Khan.

“Nothing has changed for us‚ we try to keep things the same way they have been and that’s the way it has been.

“I don’t think there’s too much of a difference [in] the way we prepare. The basics remain the same. It’s all about executing on the day and I think if we do that then we’ll be OK.”

Both teams will be without their Proteas as the national team players begin preparations for their upcoming series against Pakistan. It means the Dolphins are without Keshav Maharaj and the Titans will miss Aiden Markram.

“You obviously want all your internationals available for these sort of games‚ but it’s an uncontrollable‚” Khan said. “It creates opportunities for other guys and hopefully those that do come in make the most of the opportunity.”

As for the Titans‚ Khan added: “They are and have always been a competitive outfit. We know all about what they have managed to achieve in the franchise era‚ but we’re not going to look at them too much. We’ll focus on what we need to do and hopefully execute the way we want to.”

Titans boss Mashimbyi‚ meanwhile‚ knows exactly what his team will be up against‚ but he too is trying to keep the emphasis on what they do best.

“The Dolphins have been playing some good cricket of late and we have to give them the respect that is due to them‚” he said. “But we don’t want to change anything we’ve been doing.

“Yes it is a final. We don’t like to overthink things too much. We want to focus on the things that have worked for us thus far and improve on the things that we need to improve on.”

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