CAPE TOWN – The Sunfoil Series remains wide open with just two rounds to play after Zubayr Hamza struck an unbeaten 109 to propel the Cape Cobras to a comprehensive eight-wicket victory over the Dolphins in Pietermaritzburg on Sunday.
Fresh from facing Australia’s Test pacemen last week in Benoni, the young right-hander showed the valuable lessons he learnt at Willowmoore Park to spearhead his team’s run chase as the Cobras chased down their 227-run victory target with relative ease at the City Oval.
The victory – the Cobras’ first of the season – puts them firmly back in contention in the race for the title after defending champions the Knights were held to a draw by the Highveld Lions, and the Warriors beat the previous log-leaders the Titans by 77 runs in East London.
In fact, the Warriors’ hard-earned victory allowed the Eastern Cape side to top the Sunfoil Series table on 116.42 points.
The Cobras jump to second place on 115.78 points – only 0.64 behind – while the Knights are in third on 112.56, and the Titans further adrift on 110.76.
The Dolphins (99.4) and Lions (82.82) prop up the table in fifth and sixth respectively.
Hamza shared in a 149-run unbroken third-wicket stand with Stiaan van Zyl, who followed his first innings 63 with 66 not out (99 balls, 9x4, 1x6) in the second innings.
The Cobras always appeared in control during the chase despite losing Pieter Malan (18) and Andrew Puttick (20) when they had progressed to 78.
From then onwards it was the Hamza-Van Zyl show as the target was reached in 65.1 overs, which was just after lunch on day four.
The @WorldSportsBet Cape Cobras secure their first WIN of the 2017/18 #SunfoilSeries campaign with a comfortable 8-wicket triumph over @DolphinsCricket at the Pietermaritzburg Oval - with @Zuby_Hamza's unbeaten 109 leading the visitors home. #DOLvCOB pic.twitter.com/DUhpN4zfVF
The Dolphins had started the day on 260/8 and managed to reach 291 due to Robbie Frylinck, who was left stranded on 50 (68 balls, 3x4, 2x6).
Cobras debutant Junaid Dawood was the pick of the bowlers with 3/74.
In East London, the Warriors were not going to be denied a second victory this season despite Proteas all-rounder Chris Morris striking his fourth first-class century.
Having being sent back to domestic cricket by national coach Ottis Gibson primarily to improve his bowling form, Morris was intent on holding up the Warriors victory charge with a superb 113 off 184 balls (20x4).
But when he was trapped lbw by the home team’s captain Jon-Jon Smuts, the visitors’ resistance crumbled, with last man Tabraiz Shamsi following the very next ball as the Titans were dismissed for 248.
Smuts finished with 3/54, but it was seamer Tladi Bokako that did the real damage upfront.
Bokako decimated the Titans top-order as he finished with 4/43 from 16 overs.
Simon Harmer also collected another 3/89 as the competition’s leading wicket-taker finished with match figures of 8/163.
Meanwhile in Kimberley, the Lions foiled any chance of a Knights victory as they dug-in their heels on the final day.
The visitors closed their second innings on 194/4, with Rassie van der Dussen unbeaten on 64 off 116 balls when the rain arrived after tea that brought the match to an early close.