PORT ELIZABETH – Pieter Malan’s undefeated 94 trumped Gihan Cloete’s 120 to edge the Cape Cobras over the line by 10 runs via the Duckworth-Lewis method after rain brought play to abrupt halt in their Momentum One-Day Cup encounter at St George’s Park on Friday evening.
Malan, who is the leading run-scorer in the competition, kept the Cobras innings together superbly to leave the visitors needing 16 runs with three wickets remaining when the players dashed off the field. The victory ensured the Cobras earned the right to host next week’s semi-final at Newlands.
The Cobras seemed to be coasting to victory at 174/1 in the 33rd over with Malan and the promoted George Linde shared a 115-run partnership for the second wicket. Malan had also put on 59 for the opening wicket with Zubayr Hamza (31 off 49 balls, 5x4) to set the Cobras on track in pursuit of the original 265 required for victory.
However, after Linde’s dismissal for another brilliant 74 off just 55 balls (8x4, 2x6), the visitors suffered a mid-innings wobble. Four wickets fell for just 33 runs, including the crucial wicket of captain JP Duminy (10), and the Warriors were firmly back in the game.
Coupled with the further run-out of wicket-keeper Kyle Verreynne and the loss of all-rounder Dayyaan Galiem, and the Cobras were suddenly in serious trouble at 242/7.
Fortunately for the Cobras, Malan kept his nerve along with the experienced Rory Kleinveldt (7 not out) to ensure the visitors lost no further wickets which would have severely impacted the Duckworth Lewis calculations.
Earlier, Cloete continued his good form in this One-Day Cup by striking his second century of the competition. He faced 138 balls and clubbed eight fours and five sixes to go with the 143 made against the Knights earlier this month.
The innings was required after the hosts had slipped to 60/4 in the 19th over with the Cobras new-ball pair of Kleinveldt and Dane Paterson excelling once again.
Cloete found an able partner in Colin Ackermann as the duo resurrected the home team’s innings with a fifth-wicket partnership of 77 off 104 balls.
Ackermann scored a fine run-a-ball 45 before he holed out to Paterson on the square-leg boundary off Galiem. He struck four fours and two sixes.
Cloete gained further support from former Cobras wicket-keeper Clyde Fortuin lower down the order. Fortuin clubbed a breezy 36 to push the Warriors towards their total.
Ultimately it was not enough for the Warriors, but they do have the consolation of having qualified for the semi-finals in fourth place and will face the Titans up in Benoni.
The Cobras host the Dolphins in the other semi-final.