It’s early Spring and in the familiar surroundings of a mid-morning net session at SuperSport Park, preparing for his second season with the Franchise, Junior Dala is asked by coaches Mark Boucher and Mandla Mashimbyi what his aspirations are for the upcoming season.
Amidst his response, the paceman says: “to end up the leading wicket-taker in the one-day competition.”
And that he did.
With 16 wickets, the Multiply Titans bowler pipped Hollywoodbets Dolphins’ Robbie Frylinck (16) and Knights’ Shadley van Schalkwyk (16) to the top of the wicket-taking leaderboard with a superior average of 18.56
And to boast his impressive stats; a nomination for Momentum One Day Cup Player of the Year.
“The fact that that’s led me to be nominated for a big award is probably one of the biggest achievements of my career so far. Whether I win the award or not - just the fact that I reached my goal is an achievement,” says Dala.
The 27-year-old began his 50-over campaign under the radar with opening figures of 1-42 against the Dolphins. Fulfilling the role as twelfth man away to the BuildNat Cape Cobras, he returned to the bowling attack for the visit by Titans’ Gauteng rivals, the bizhub Highveld Lions.
The hosts might have secured victory by an emphatic 109 runs with almost 14 overs to spare, but it was Dala who grabbed the headlines with an exhibition of pressure bowling to contain the Lions top order.
Defending 268, and yet to get the breakthrough, Dala was the tossed the ball in the seventh over.
Marking his run-up, the right-armer, who embodies the modern-day athlete in physique, charged in and dispatched a delivery of accurate line and length to have Reeza Hendricks caught off his very first ball. Lions 33-1.
Dominic Hendricks made his way out to the middle. The left-hander survived one ball before his stump was flattened with the third delivery of the over. Lions 33-2.
Conceding just two runs from his first over, Dala continued to exert pressure before Nicky van den Bergh became his third victim in the thirteenth over - caught behind for 10. Dala finished the match with career-best List A figures of 3-21, rightly earning him the Man of the Match award.
Dala’s consistency with the white ball in the 50-over competition is much to admire; mirroring last year’s wicket column but, noticeably, returning an improved average.
And with the aspiration of playing international cricket, the Gauteng native has caught the eye of the South African selectors, having recently been awarded a place in the upcoming winter South Africa ‘A’ tour of England. Not to mention, a CSA ‘Top Up’ contract.
“I’ve grown up as a player and bowler, especially with the type of bowlers that we have in the Titans team,” says Dala. "It wasn’t a case of keeping the run rate down, I could just strike and fulfil my role, where in the past I had to keep the rate down and take wickets at the same time.”