Cobras closing in on big prize

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iol spt mar30 Piedt-Cobras Gallo Images Cobras captain Justin Ontong led the way for his team with a century as the visitors reached 322 for seven on day one of their domestic four-day match against the Lions. Photo by Grant Pitcher/Gallo Images

It was a day of contrasting emotions at Newlands yesterday. As one of South Africa’s stalwart cricketers played his final first-class innings in this country, the Cape Cobras put one hand on the Sunfoil Series trophy with a 184-run victory over the Warriors.

There wasn’t much of a party in the home side’s dressingroom after the match, as they were waiting to see whether the second-placed Knights could chase down an improbable 435 runs for victory against the Titans. After a rollicking start, the Bloemfontein outfit lost their way after the Titans took the new ball, and the Cenurion side went on to record only their second win of the season.

The Cobras are now 19.08 points ahead of the Knights going into the final round of fixtures. Only a complete meltdown against the struggling Lions, and a big win with a truckload of bonus points for the Knights against the Dolphins, is standing in the way of Paul Adams’s side annexing the R1million first prize.

The Cobras blew the Warriors away this weekend, and responded brilliantly after they opened the door for the Knights with a crushing defeat in Kimberley a fortnight ago.

The talented Stiaan van Zyl scored a brilliant century in the first innings and was ably supported by wicket-keeper Dane Vilas, while Rory Kleinveldt produced an outstanding performance with the ball and the bat in the first half of the match to set up the victory.

Kleinveldt (3/43) took the most wickets in the Warriors’ second innings as well, but it was a team effort as all of the Cape side’s front-line bowlers chipped in to bowl out the Warriors just before the tea break yesterday.

“This is a massive win for us,” Adams told the Cape Times after the match. “At the start of the game we said we are going to be in for a big weekend against the Warriors. It’s going to be important that we still follow our processes (against the Lions) and not think about our advantage because that can be very distracting. So it’s just important that players understand their roles and what they have to do.”

The retiring Ashwell Prince (41), though, looked to delay the Cape side’s march, with the former Proteas batsman showing that he is still the man for a scrap. But his 144-ball vigil came to an end just after lunch when he was caught at first slip by Justin Kemp off the bowling of Kleinveldt.

The gritty left-hander, who also played lots of cricket down here in the Cape, walked off to a standing ovation by the handful of people at this grand old ground yesterday. - Cape Times


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