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Paul Adams will stick to one of the simplest rules of sport this week: don’t change a winning team. The Cape Cobras coach juggled his combinations correctly in Sunday’s semifinal, when he sweetly blended in the returning Proteas with the group that had served him so well in this year’s 1-Day Cup.
Even a late injury to the national Test captain Graeme Smith last Friday could not derail his plans, with the Cobras edging out the Titans by three wickets at Newlands to book their place in Friday night’s final against the Highveld Lions at the Wanderers.
Adams took a lot of confidence from the fact that it was a “star” in Dale Steyn that helped set up the victory with a five-wicket haul, but that significant contributions with the bat also came from “regulars” Justin Ontong and Yaseen Vallie to take the defending champions over the line.
Captain Ontong struck a fluent 82 not out, while young Vallie made a valuable 60. The pair also shared a match-winning 109-run partnership.
Many, though, would have hoped that Smith would shake off his elbow injury to be ready for the Bullring clash and that Charl Langeveldt would be fit again after missing the semi-final due to a Grade 2 groin strain he picked up in Paarl last week. Adams confirmed yesterday that neither will be put under any undue pressure to be ready for the final, with Andrew Puttick and Johann Louw set to continue in the respective opening roles with bat and ball.
The only possible change Adams may consider to the playing XI is whether Justin Kemp can get his dodgy hamstring through another big game. The former captain has been in excellent form with the ball this season, but has struggled with his fitness in the latter half of this 1-Day Cup campaign. He missed a double-header a couple of weeks ago to get his hamstring ready for the playoffs, but strained it again on Sunday against the Titans.
Kemp will be monitored throughout the week, and every effort will be made to get him fit through intensive work with physiotherapist Shane Jabaar. However, Adams has placed Proteas Test bowler Vernon Philander on standby for the final should Kemp not recover. - The Star