Dolphins rule KZN after Tristan Luus, Marques Ackerman heroics against Tuskers

Marques Ackerman (second from left) scored a crucial half-century for the Dolphins against the Tuskers on Monday. Picture: BackpagePix

Marques Ackerman (second from left) scored a crucial half-century for the Dolphins against the Tuskers on Monday. Picture: BackpagePix

Published Apr 1, 2024


South African Under-19 star Tristan Luus enjoyed a stellar CSA T20 Challenge debut to help the Dolphins to a much-needed victory over Pietermaritzburg neighbours the Tuskers in Potchefstroom on Monday.

Luus was one of the standout performers in the SA side that reached the semi-finals of the ICC Under-19 World Cup held across Mzansi earlier this year.

Having already seen national team teammates Kwena Mphaka (Lions), Lhu-handré Pretorius (Titans) and Juan James (Western Province) make their senior provincial debuts in the T20 Challenge, Luus was not going to waste his opportunity.

Luus delivered an impressive four-over spell of 2-30, which included the wickets of Tian Koekemoer (26) and Kagiso “Jonty” Rapulana (45), to restrict the Tuskers to 132-5 after the Dolphins had earlier mustered 151-7.

Luus also managed to execute the run out of Malcolm Nofal for good measure.

The Dolphins will certainly be grateful for the 18-year-old’s contribution in getting them back on the winning path after a shock loss to the Rocks in their previous match.

Imraan Khan’s team are now back in contention for the semi-finals in fourth position, having moved up to 19 points – two behind the Lions in second place and Western Province in third, who both have 21.

The Warriors lead the table with an impressive 35 points after managing a 100% record after eight matches.

The Dolphins put the squeeze on with the ball after Marques Ackerman formed the mainstay of the innings with 54 off 36 balls.

Ackerman’s innings was critical in rebuilding the Dolphins innings after last season’s runners-up were reduced to 2-2 after 1.4 overs, thanks to an outstanding new-ball spell from Mbulelo Budaza.

The veteran left-arm seamer had been left out of the Tuskers’ starting XI in the last couple of matches, but made an immediate impact on his return with the new ball by removing Bryce Parsons and Grant Roelofson in the PowerPlay.

Ackerman eventually found an able partner in the experienced Khaya Zondo. With Zondo (21 off 20 balls) playing more of the anchor role and Ackerman the aggressor, the pair added 58 runs for the fourth wicket off just 36 balls.

It set the platform for all-rounders Andile Phehlukwayo (30 off 22) and Prenelan Subrayen (28 off 15), who were able to put the Tuskers’ bowlers to the sword in the last five overs, with 58 runs flowing off their bats.

It was this late flourish and Luus’ timely interventions with the ball that ultimately ensured that the Dolphins will be crowned kings of KwaZulu-Natal for the day.

Meanwhile, the North West Dragons and Titans’ hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals were dealt a heavy blow on Monday.

Both teams were seeking an outright win in a bid to gain ground on their rivals ahead of them in the race.

Instead, they could only look on after the heavens opened in Potchefstroom, which forced their clash to be abandoned with the Titans on 139-4 with 17 balls remaining in their innings.

Titans captain Sibonelo Makhanya struck 52 off just 39 balls, while Rivaldo Moonsamy also contributed 33.

Both teams are now locked on 13 points, although the Titans have a game in hand over the Dragons.