It was the batsmen who let the team down as the Cobras collapsed to 169 all out in 42 overs, with only captain Justin Ontong making any meaningful contribution with the willow in a solid innings of 60 off 77 balls.
Ontong showed his teammates exactly how they should’ve gone about their task on a two-paced Newlands pitch as he packed away his expansive shots and accumulated runs around the wicket as he hit just two boundaries.
None of his teammates displayed the same amount of application and patience, with off-spinner Dane Piedt at No 8 facing 48 balls - the second-most after Ontong - for his 22 as the Cobras lost their second consecutive One-Day Cup final at Newlands, having gone down to the Titans last season.
The Lions got the runs in emphatic fashion off just 33.4 overs, losing just two wickets, with captain and Man-of-the-Match Stephen Cook top-scoring with 77 not out and Alviro Petersen getting 55.
“From a batting point of view, probably not enough runs. It put us under pressure. You always need to get a good, solid score here in a final - 250-plus. It just wasn’t good enough with the bat,” Adams told Independent Media afterwards.
“With a low score, it’s tailor-made for their batting line-up. They didn’t have to do much. We just lost our wickets, and probably not setting up partnerships in that way.
“Some options that some batsmen chose were probably down to the decision-making being the wrong one. But look, that’s the way it sometimes goes in games and unfortunately today, we were on the wrong end of it.”
The big selection call saw Proteas Test batsman Stiaan van Zyl left out, with Richard Levi coming back into the team after missing the second half of the season as he was playing in the Masters Champions League in Dubai.
This left the Cobras short of batting firepower, as they only had five front-line batsmen in Levi, Andrew Puttick, Omphile Ramela, Ontong and wicket-keeper Dane Vilas.
An alternative would’ve been to pick Levi and Van Zyl and drop one of the specialist bowlers - either Beuran Hendricks or Dane Paterson - to bolster the batting line-up against a top-quality Lions bowling attack.
Losing Hendricks or Paterson would’ve meant that Ontong, Van Zyl and Mgijima would’ve had to fulfil the fifth bowler’s 10 overs.
But Adams disagreed with that notion. “Obviously there were two ways to go there. Richard Levi brings a lot of X-factor to the game, and last year he managed to get a hundred in the final. He is one of those players who can get going upfront,” the former Proteas spinner said.
“Parny (Wayne Parnell, who had been opening the batting earlier in the competition) didn’t really give us a score, so we were looking for a really good, explosive start to put them under pressure, with them only having three seamers. So, that didn’t happen unfortunately and that’s the way it went.
“Well, there were six batsmen, with Aviwe Mgijima in there. So don’t leave that one out! And Parny was the all-rounder who was batting at the top. In all our games, we were batting with that sort of line-up. So, it was just a swop, with Richard the more attacking batsman into the fray.”
Lions coach Geoffrey Toyana was elated about the performance of his side, who had to come through a qualifier against the Warriors in the week to make it to Newlands. “It’s very satisfying, and yes, it’s been a tough second half of the season, where we’ve had injuries and lost players to the Proteas set-up,” he said.
“But I take my hat off to those who have come in and taken their opportunities. To come to Cape Town against a quality side like the Cobras and play like that… I am quite emotional today.”
The major positive for the Cobras, though, is that they managed to top the log and secure a home final following the playoff defeat in the RamSlam T20 Challenge, while they have also battled in the four-day Sunfoil Series, where they are second-last on the standings at the moment.
Original source: Adams: Levi brings X-factor