JOHANNESBURG – This was a match for the pragmatists; winning being all that mattered, for it was a game lacking quality from both sides.
The Lions will accept the ugly seven-wicket win at the Wanderers on Friday night however, for at least it will provide their batsmen with some confidence.
Victory was achieved with seven balls to spare as the Lions chased down the Cape Cobras’ 169/6 as they finished on 175/3.
But the home side will also be aware of the enormous helping hand they got from their opponents, who were simply awful in the field.
Last week, the Dolphins exposed their lethargy at SuperSport Park, and on Friday night there was more of the same, with two catches being dropped.
Adding to their awfulness in the field, the Cobras missed two wickets because of no-balls, the first of those when Mangaliso Mosehle was on 11, which proved especially costly.
The Cobras score looked about 20 runs light following a somewhat disjointed batting display.
There will be serious question marks over Richard Levi’s continued presence in the starting team, for not only is he a liability in the field – and on Friday he dropped a sitter at slip – but in two innings, he’s contributed just seven runs.
His time at the crease on Friday night last just three balls and finished with a dreadful drag on to his stumps off the bowling of Kagiso Rabada.
Hashim Amla (36) and Wayne Parnell (33), promoted to No 3 in the order following his return to the side, shared a stand of 75 for the second wicket, with Parnell’s an innings packed with agricultural shots, while Amla became somewhat unhinged later as he tried to up the scoring rate.
They were both dismissed in the 10th over by Lions skipper Aaron Phangiso, and that double strike perhaps slowed the visiting team’s momentum.
JP Duminy made 55 (31 balls, 3x4, 2x6), as he sought to regain the initiative for his side, but two excellent overs in the 19th and 20th by Rabada (2/19) and Wiaan Mulder (1/23), in which they combined to concede just 11 runs, gave the Lions a boost.
Mosehle came in for criticism for a lax stroke against the Titans last week, but here he gave himself some extra time to get settled and it paid dividends.
He shared a 43-run stand with Reeza Hendricks (42, 32 balls, 3x4, 2x6), but was grateful for the life given to him by the inexperienced Mthiwekhaya Nabe, who replays showed had overstepped the front line when Mosehle was well caught by George Linde on the third-man boundary with his score on 11.
Mosehle shared a 63-run stand for the third wicket with Omphile Ramela, which provided the foundation for the Lions’ innings.
They added 54 runs between the 11th and 14th overs – the Cobras’ ill-discipline again a feature, with Parnell bowling three wides in the 11th over, which proved to be decisive in the outcome.
Mosehle was eventually dismissed for 55 (36 balls, 4x4, 3x6), while Ramela would also receive a reprieve later when he was called back after Vernon Philander had overstepped the frontline.
There is plenty of hard work ahead for the Cobras if they are to get their RamSlam campaign back on track.
They can’t afford to make half of the errors they made on Friday night if they hope to beat the Titans at SuperSport Park on Sunday.
The Lions head to Potchefstroom for a match against the Dolphins.