CAPE TOWN – The return of Proteas Test batsman Zubayr Hamza will be a “great bonus” for the Cape Cobras in their second-last 4-Day Series clash against the Titans on Monday.
Cobras assistant coach Faiek Davids couldn’t hide his delight at Hamza’s availability for the match at the Recreation Ground in Oudtshoorn, as his team came up short with the bat in a six-wicket defeat to the Warriors at Newlands last week.
Ashwell Prince’s team could manage just 239 in the first innings, with the top three of Pieter Malan, Matthew Kleinveldt and Simon Khomari scoring just 25 runs amongst themselves.
That increased to 60 in the second dig in a total of 309, and with Janneman Malan still sidelined by a finger fracture, Hamza comes back at just the right time.
The 23-year-old right-hander will be brimming confidence after a solid Test debut against Pakistan at the Wanderers, where he scored 41 in the first innings at No 5.
He was unlucky to be out lbw for a duck in his second knock, with the ball keeping low on a difficult pitch.
“We did not score enough runs in the first innings, and there were a number of soft dismissals,” Davids told the Cobras website on Sunday about the defeat to the Warriors.
“We needed to establish greater partnerships in the first innings. What is needed is one top-order batsman to score 150 and two others to record half-centuries.
“We will welcome back Zubayr Hamza after he played in his maiden Test for South Africa. It will be a great bonus.”
The Cobras are in an intense battle for the title, as they lead the log on 146.82 points, which is just 1.60 ahead of the Lions (145.22).
Thanks to everyone for the well wishing messages and support over the past few weeks, it’s been magical and really appreciate everything🙏 Hopefully the First of many☝️#TestDebut— Zubayr Hamza (@Zuby_Hamza) January 20, 2019
The Warriors are third on 119.46, the Knights fourth (101.68), with the Titans (94.30) and Dolphins (86.46) rounding out the standings with two rounds to go.
The Cobras’ task of taking 20 wickets in Oudtshoorn will be made more difficult by Dane Paterson’s absence, as he is part of the Proteas ODI squad, while Tladi Bokako (ankle) is also still on the sidelines.
In addition, the experienced Rory Kleinveldt retired from first-class cricket after the Warriors game.
All of that sees Ferisco Adams and new Border signing Akhona Mnyaka being called up to the 13-man squad.
* In the other matches starting on Monday, the Lions will face the Knights in Bloemfontein, while the Warriors host the Dolphins in East London.
Cape Cobras squad
Dane Piedt (captain), Ferisco Adams, David Bedingham, Zubayr Hamza, Simon Khomari, George Linde, Pieter Malan, Aviwe Mgijima, Akhona Mnyaka, Mthiwekhaya Nabe, Jason Smith, Kyle Verreynne, Lizaad Williams.