Cape Cobras 159/4 (Amla 52, Bavuma 42, Linde 52*)
Warriors 149/8 (Ackermann 55; Paterson 3/25)
Cobras won by 10 runs
PAARL – For a long period on Wednesday evening, the Cape Cobras seemed to have it all sewn up.
Everything coach Ashwell Prince and captain JP Duminy had demanded pre-match was perfectly executed.
The new opening pair of Hashim Amla, who struck his second half-century of the RamSlam T20 Challenge, and the newly-promoted Temba Bavuma (42 off 42 balls) rectified the poor starts the Cobras have been experiencing with a 90-run stand for the first wicket in 12 overs.
And when it was the Cobras’ turn with the ball, Rory Kleinveldt and the recalled Dane Paterson – who replaced Vernon Philander after the Proteas all-rounder withdrew due to a dog biting his hand – did their job upfront to reduce the Warriors to 26/2 at the end of the powerplay.
Customarily, a positive start with both bat and ball in T20 cricket is enough to comfortably win the game.
Yet for long periods at Boland Park it was the Cobras who were sweating, and not just due to the hot and humid conditions at the picturesque winelands venue.
That was largely due to Colin Ackermann refusing to let a ground-record chase – that was seemingly always out of reach – just drift away into the cloudless night sky.
He certainly tried to match Amla’s 52 off 36 balls with a 44-ball 55 of his own.
It kept the visitors in the hunt until Ackermann was caught on the midwicket boundary by Aviwe Mgijima off Paterson at the conclusion of the 18th over.
But ultimately the difference between the teams proved to be George Linde’s cameo earlier in the day.
The Cobras all-rounder, who was surprisingly promoted to No 3, took full advantage of his move up the order with a blitzkrieg 52 not out off just 30 balls (3x4, 2x6).
The lanky left-hander played with the type of freedom that eluded many of his accomplished teammates, and certainly looks to be a useful joker for Prince and the Cobras to have up their sleeve as the competition progresses.
He was not so good with the ball on the night, but did manage to pick up the dangerous Colin Ingram for 38 (30 balls, 1x4, 2x6) just when the Glamorgan star was looking to put his foot flat on the accelerator.
In fact, it was just reward for Linde as he should actually have had Ingram caught at deep long-off by Bavuma earlier in the over, only for the Proteas star to spill yet another catch in the deep.
It was the Cobras seam bowlers, though, who held their nerve, with Kleinveldt leading the way.
The burly opening bowler has been sensational since his return to the Cobras team a couple of matches back, and put in another splendid display, with his four overs costing just 16 runs.
Paterson also made a triumphant return after being dropped last weekend, with the Proteas opening bowler showing his class.
A return of 3/25 from his four overs will give Prince a selection headache once Philander recovers from the stitches in his hand.
All that, though, is next week’s worries as the Cobras can now enjoy the fact that they have moved up to second position on the log after the highveld derby between the Lions and Titans was washed out at the Wanderers on Wednesday.