CAPE TOWN – First Zubayr Hamza, and later Kyle Verreynne came to the rescue as the Cape Cobras eventually got over the line in a thrilling four-wicket win over the Knights at Newlands on Thursday.
Coach Ashwell Prince would’ve expected his team to have a more comfortable journey to victory in their Four-Day Series opener, having managed to bowl out the Knights for 334 in their second innings.
That meant the Cobras had 194 runs to chase, which was an excellent outcome after the Knights looked like setting a big target, having resumed on their overnight score of 240/3.
But after captain Pite van Biljon and wicket-keeper Rudi Second added another 32 runs on Thursday, Tladi Bokako struck with the second new ball as he had Second caught behind for 23.
That was the breakthrough that the Cobras needed, as Dane Paterson rocked the visitors with three quick wickets, dismissing Patrick Kruger, Ryan McLaren and Corné Dry to leave the Knights on 309/7.
Van Biljon managed to reach his half-century, but Paterson (4/68) got his fourth wicket to get rid of the right-hander for 57 (off 99 balls, 10x4).
The Knights were bowled out for 334, and it looked like the Cobras were well on their way to victory.
But their openers, Malan brothers Janneman and Pieter, were back in the pavilion by the 10th over, with the Cobras reeling on 25/2 – Duanne Olivier and McLaren sharing the wickets.
It was up to star No 3 Zubayr Hamza to handle the pressure, and didn’t he just. Joined by debutant David Bedingham, the duo added a vital 34 for the third wicket, which was important in the context of the chase.
Bedingham seemed in a hurry, hitting five boundaries, but he came unstuck and was caught behind off Ottniel Baartman for 23 off 22 balls.
Hamza, who was the Cobras’ four-day player of the year last season, found another solid partner in Aviwe Mgijima, and they gathered 50 more valuable runs to eat away at the 194-run target.
But when Mgijima was trapped lbw by Tshepo Ntuli for 30, the Cobras were still well short at 109/4.
Enter young wicket-keeper Verreynne. The former SA Under-19 gloveman’s batting is highly rated, and he showed why as he took the attack to the Knights bowlers.
Hamza dropped anchor at the other end, and got to his 21st first-class half-century, which will do his Proteas prospects no harm.
After the pair added 60 for the fifth wicket and were well on their way to clinching victory, there was a late scare for the Cobras when Hamza fell for 57 (127 balls, 5x4) to Baartman, and suddenly the visitors were back in with a shout.
Captain Dane Piedt also nicked one behind off Baartman, and the hosts were in a tricky situation at 173/6.
Big-hitting Rory Kleinveldt, though, continued his good form from the first innings – when he scored 54 – by ending the game with four, two and a six.
Verreynne finished on an excellent unbeaten 51 (59 balls, 7x4), with the Cobras claiming 24 points and the Knights 5.6.
That’s the game! 👏— COBRAS CRICKET (@CobrasCricket) October 4, 2018
The @WorldSportsBet Cape Cobras secure a 4-wicket victory in the opening 4-Day Domestic Series
A six from Rory Kleinveldt to seal the victory, with Kyle Verreynne remaining unbeaten on 51 ! 🐍💙#COBvKNI #4DaySeries pic.twitter.com/DJtQVTne3N
The Cape side’s second match takes place next Monday against the Lions – who beat the Warriors by nine wickets in Port Elizabeth on Thursday – at the Wanderers, while the Knights will face the Dolphins in Kimberley.