fast little loans
Vernon Philander is back in the blue of the Cape Cobras and the World No 2 Test bowler has a major job to do for his franchise this week.
It may be white-ball cricket instead of the red one Philander is so dangerous with, and the format entirely different, but Philander is a big-game player. And the Cobras need their “stars” to start making an impact in this decisive week of the RamSlam T20 Challenge. Coach Paul Adams’s side are nine points adrift of log-leaders, the Highveld Lions, and currently occupy a lowly fourth place on the table after producing a 50% record in their four games thus far.
This is not the sort of form expected from this season’s double champions – the Cobras have already won the Sunfoil Series and shared the Momentum 1-Day Cup with the Lions.
They boast far too much talent, in both the batting and bowling departments, to struggle along like this in a tournament that is crucial to the financial bottom-line of the franchise.
And if they thought the heat was intense during training yesterday at Newlands, it will only get hotter, considering they simply cannot afford – literally – not to qualify for the lucrative Champions League T20.
Fortunately for the Cobras, though, there are 10 matches being played between tomorrow and next Tuesday, which should by its conclusion provide greater clarity on who will progress to the knockout stages.
Philander will be available for all the Cobras’ fixtures during this period – they play three, starting with tomorrow’s game against the Warriors – and Adams will have no hesitation in drafting him straight back into the starting XI for the crucial clash at St George’s Park.
Beuran Hendricks has been a hit for the Cobras since coming into the side after being left out for the first game against the Lions. He has been able to generate good pace, which has enabled him to strike regularly up front.
Hendricks should hold on to his place, despite Philander being back in the frame, with possibly Sunfoil Series stalwart Johann Louw missing out. Louw was superb in the four-day competition with 49 scalps, but has lacked penetration in the T20s.
Likewise, the Cobras will be disappointed with their overseas signing, Azhar Mahmood, thus far. The former Pakistan international has flattered to deceive with the bat in the two opportunities he’s had, scoring just 26 runs at a strike-rate of 107.69, while he is also conceding 7.80 runs to the over.
It is possibly too early to judge Mahmood, though, and this could be the week, in tandem with Philander, that he puts in that much-needed match-winning performance.
Adams also welcomes back his captain Justin Ontong after his T20 international exploits with the Proteas and he too will go straight back into the action. Yaseen Vallie is the batsman most likely to drop out, although the heat is certainly on opener Stiaan van Zyl to get amongst the runs again.
Van Zyl was the leading run-scorer in the competition last year, but the stylish left-hander has struggled with his form in the first four games, scoring just 18 runs with a top score of nine. His strike-rate has also been well below par at 51.42.
The Cobras cannot afford a misfiring gun at the top of the order, especially as it places added pressure on fellow opener Richard Levi to provide the innings with momentum. - The Cape Times