CAPE TOWN - Form is always a fickle companion. When it leaves a batsman it becomes as hard to find as water in Cape Town. But when its running your way, then it gushes like the Victoria Falls.
Cape Cobras pair Pieter Malan and Simon Khomari are certainly making the most of their good form, with Malan registering his maiden franchise List A century at Boland Park on Friday night to power the Cobras to a comfortable 27-run victory.
Malan’s beautifully controlled innings of 124 off 132 balls (12x4) saw the Cobras opening batsman surge to the top of the Momentum One-Day Cup run-scoring charts with 489 runs at the average of 61.12. The tall right-hander required 66 balls for his first 50, but only another 52 for the next as he tried to pick up the pace on a pitch where stroke-making was not always easy.
Equally, Khomari grafted his way to 79 off 103 balls (3x4) in the familiar surroundings of his home ground. The left-hander has oozed class since being drafted into the Cobras team three matches ago, with Friday’s innings being his third consecutive half-century – in the process improving his franchise best in every game too.
He would, though, have been disappointed that he failed to convert this promising innings into a maiden franchise ton, but that will be softened by the fact that Khomari now boasts 204 runs at the hugely-impressive average of 102.
The duo’s 164-run partnership for the second wicket was the backbone of the Cobras’ 273/6, which ultimately proved too much for a Lions’ batting unit low on confidence.
The visitors would have required one of their premier batsmen to match Malan and Khomari’s efforts, but the tournament’s in-form new-ball pair of Rory Kleinveldt (3/48) and Dane Paterson once again provided the perfect start for the Cobras.
They were miserly upfront with Kleinveldt providing the all-important opening strike when Lions captain Stephen Cook was caught by his Cobras counterpart JP Duminy for just six off 15 balls. After a rare failure with the bat in the pursuit of quick runs, Duminy was determined to make it up in the field and struck another vital blow when he had Reeza Hendricks caught and bowled for 22 a few overs later.
Dominic Hendricks fought a lone battle for the Lions with a 77 off 98 balls (6x4), but required support from the other end if the visitors were going to get close. It never materialised as the Cobras chipped away at the Lions’ middle-order by picking up regular wickets.
The home team also raised their effort in the field, which accounted for two crucial run outs. Former Cobras captain Omphile Ramela was felled by direct-hit from Duminy – a further contribution from the skipper in the field – before Hendricks too was left short of his ground.
Proteas all-rounder Dwaine Pretorius provided the Lions with a glimmer of hope with a breezy 46 off 41 balls (3x4, 1x5), but promising all-rounder Dayaan Galiem saw to his demise before Kleinveldt finished off the Lions’ challenge with two further wickets.