PAARL – The Cape Cobras runaway steam train came to a grinding halt at Boland Park on Thursday morning, with Craig Alexander driving the Highveld Lions to a much-deserved victory.
Alexander claimed three of the five remaining wickets to wrap up a superb 186-run win for the visitors, which trimmed the previously unbeaten Cobras’ lead at the top of the table from 33 points to 12.
Former Capetonian fast bowler Alexander ended with 3/52 as the hosts fell from their overnight 186/5 to 246 all out on the last morning, with left-arm spin duo Bjorn Fortuin (3/37) and Aaron Phangiso (3/77) also claiming six wickets in the fourth innings.
The only consolation for the Cobras was Pieter Malan (101 off 235 balls, 13 fours) registering his third century of the season, while Jason Smith struck 74 (off 132 balls, 8 fours).
“We set ourselves the goal of spending the whole day in the field because Pieter and Smith seemed to set out their stall, but fortunately we made the early breakthrough,” Lions captain Temba Bavuma told Independent Media.
“It has been a strong collective effort. The batters got us going in tough conditions on day one. And then the bowling attack won the game for us.
“We had to win to keep our own ambitions in the competition alive, for the Cobras are running away with it. We had to try to do something to stop them in their tracks.”
The 4-Day Domestic Series takes a back seat now for the Mzansi Super League that gets under way next Friday, but for players like Malan, the pain of defeat will linger for a while.
“It is not the game we wanted to play. We let ourselves down in the first innings, and to a degree in the second innings too. It is disappointing,” Malan said.
“We tried not to look to far ahead, take it ball-by-ball. We gave ourselves a 10 percent chance of pulling it off, but unfortunately, it didn’t happen.”
It’s all over at Eurolux Boland Park.
Tladi Bokako is the last wicket to fall, bowled by Alexander, as the @WorldSportsBet Cape Cobras succumb to a 187-run defeat to @LionsCricketSA
We’ll bounce back!💙🐍
LIO: 337 & 233
COB: 138 & 246 all out (81.2 ov) #COBvLIO #4DaySeries pic.twitter.com/VYnzCLfhJy