POTCHEFSTROOM - The Cape Cobras gained a significant advantage in the race for the Sunfoil Series title, just by getting on the field at Senwes Park in Potchefstroom on Friday.
The Cobras picked up 2.34 bonus points on the second day of their match against the Highveld Lions, while the other major contenders for the championship; the table toppers coming into the final round of matches, the Warriors, the Titans and the defending champions Knights, were frustrated by rain for the second consecutive day in Durban and Centurion.
As a result, the Cobras now top the competition’s log - as it stands.
Sent into bat after Stephen Cook won the toss, the Cobras notched up 217, by no means a hefty, match winning total, but those 2.34 points before the other two matches have tossed will be crucial.
The talented young right hander Zubayr Hamza top scored for the visitors with 57, in what were, difficult conditions.
The Cobras found themselves in early trouble losing opening pair Pieter Malan and Andrew Puttick, the latter playing in his last first class match, inside the first hour.
Hamza and Stiaan van Zyl (47) added 84 for the third wicket at a very good rate. Their aggression likely the result of trying to create as much time as possible to ensure they can set up a win. Van Zyl hit seven fours in his innings, which lasted just 54 balls, before off-spinner Wihan Lubbe had him caught at slip by Reeza Hendricks.
The visitors suffered a terrible slump thereafter losing six wickets for 52 runs in 21 overs as no one was able to build on the foundation that Hamza and Van Zyl had provided.
Hamza went passed 3000 First Class runs in the process of his innings that lasted over two hours, but it took a belligerent, unbeaten 35 from Dane Paterson, to secure the Cobras that vital second bonus point for batting. Paterson faced just 23 balls, hitting three fours and two sixes.
Left-arm spinner Bjorn Fortuin, returning from more than a month out injured, was the most successful of the home team’s bowlers claiming 3/43, while seamers, Dwaine Pretorios, Nono Pongolo and Nandre Burger picked up two wickets each.
Cook’s wretched season with the bat continued when he was trapped lbw for one by Lizaad Williams, while Reeza Hendricks was dismissed for 17 as the Cobras set off in pursuit of bowling points.
Those efforts were frustrated however, as a former Cobras player, Omphile Ramela, who finished not out on 58 and the Lions form batsman this season Rassie van der Dussen (37*), saw out the day with an as yet unbeaten stand of 81, as the Lions finished the day on 117/2 trailing the Cobras by 100 runs.