CAPE TOWN - For all the hullabaloo surrounding the Titans’ dominance of the domestic circuit, it is not they who provide the Cape Cobras with the biggest challenge of the season.
In fact, the Cobras have now despatched the current T20 and defending One-Day Cup champions in their last two clashes across white-ball formats. Besides the Dolphins’ victory over the “Light Blues” in the highly controversial final round-robin fixture of the T20 Challenge when the Titans fielded an under-strength team, no other side in South Africa has managed to defeat the Centurion-based outfit this season.
The latest Cobras victory was part of a successful weekend for Ashwell Prince’s team on the Highveld, as they not only beat the Titans on Friday but also their Gauteng neighbours, the Highveld Lions, at the Wanderers on Sunday.
“It was a good weekend for us as we managed to get nine points, the one additional bonus point coming against a team that everyone thinks is invincible, the Titans,” Prince said.
“So, it was very satisfying. As I said to the players after the Titans game that win will only feel sweet if we can back it up with a win against the Lions... and we got it. So, it’s been a good start to the year.”
However, the Cobras do have their own “hoodoo” team. The Dolphins have come out on top in white-ball cricket in every encounter with the Western Cape team this season.
It was Dolphins opener Sarel Erwee’s maiden T20 franchise century that did the damage in the tournament opener at SuperSport Park in November, while two Kingsmead washouts - including the semi-final - dashed the Cobras’ T20 Challenge hopes.
A change of format to the longer 50-over game made no difference, as the Dolphins once again got the better of their Cape counterparts at Kingsmead at the start of the competition.
Taking all this into account, there should undoubtedly be just that little extra edge to the One-Day Cup encounter today at Boland Park when the Cobras host their nemesis.
“We’ll be prepared this time, we’re at home and look forward to a good result,” Prince stated emphatically. “We were unlucky against them in the last game when Rory (Kleinveldt) was injured just before the toss and we had to make some last-minute changes.”
The Cobras will be boosted by Kleinveldt’s return as he has played a prominent part in an ever-improving bowling attack. The new-ball pair of Kleinveldt and Proteas seamer Dane Paterson has been particularly effective, with the latter claiming eight wickets in the One-Day Cup.
The back-up has been equally good with medium-pacer Mthiwekhaya Nabe continuing his good form with nine scalps, while left-arm spinner George Linde has claimed 10 wickets in the competition.
“At the end of the day you can’t get results if only one department is firing and the others aren’t,” Prince said. “But it is rather pleasing to see how the guys are bowling.
“Dane Paterson is an international-class bowler and that’s why he’s been selected for South Africa previously. And he’s showing at the moment why he’s one of the best bowlers in the country, supported well by Rory, George, Nabe... they (are) all bowling well as a unit. I hope it continues against the Dolphins.”
The Dolphins will also be boosted by the availability of Proteas all-rounder Andile Phehlukwayo for the clash. The Proteas have made all the non-playing members of the Test squad available for this round of fixtures ahead of the second Test against India at SuperSport Park on Saturday.