Cobras substandard in all aspects

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Cape Cobras: 169 all out (Ontong 60; Matshikwe 3/28)

Highveld Lions: 171/2 (Cook 77, Petersen 55; Parnell 2/36)

Lions won by eight wickets

Cape Town - The Highveld Lions are the outright One-Day Cup champions for the first time in their history. Their win was attained in the most emphatic fashion through a performance that simply blew the Cape Cobras away on a blustery day at Newlands.

The 170 runs, which the Lions required for victory, was acquired with contemptuous ease, setting up an eight-wicket victory that accurately reflected the gulf between the two teams on the day. The Cobras simply did not pitch up for work yesterday, as they easily delivered their worst performance of the season.

It was a disappointing culmination to a solid campaign in which the home side had played like champions throughout. However when the time came to prove it, they faltered badly.

Every aspect of the Cobras’ performance was sub-standard. After being sent in on a pitch that admittedly was not easy to bat on, the batting unit failed to show the necessary application required. The recalled Richard Levi was unlucky to be run out, although the opener had already been given an earlier reprieve when Temba Bavuma missed another shy at the stumps from close in.

Bavuma, though, was not going to let a second opportunity pass him by as he threw down the stumps from mid-off when Levi and Andrew Puttick were involved in another mid-pitch mess up. Even though the match was just eight overs old, the Levi run-out was a pivotal moment.

The Cobras had recalled the powerful slugger at the expense of Stiaan van Zyl in the hope that he could provide some firepower at the top of the innings. The pitch, though, was not conducive to any free-flowing strokeplay, which would have been tailor-made for Van Zyl’s accumulation style at the crease.

“Richard Levi brings plenty of X-factor to the game and last year he scored a hundred in the final. We were looking for a real explosive start to put them under pressure with them only having three seamers, but that didn’t really work out that way unfortunately. It is very disappointing.” Cobras coach Paul Adams said.

The rest of the Cobras batting unit failed to adapt to the conditions with only captain Justin Ontong offering any sort of hope with a hard-earned 60. The skipper, though, failed to find a partner to bat with him for any length of time, with only the two Danes (Vilas and Piedt) putting up any sort of fight.

The match was firmly in the balance when Ontong and Vilas were at the crease. The pair are easily the Cobras’ premier batsmen and if they were able to put a big partnership together like they have done all season, the home side would have stood a chance of posting some sort of defendable total.

However, the Lions bowlers stuck to their disciplines throughout, and simply bided their time before a Cobras batsman would inevitably make a mistake. Proteas left-arm spinner Aaron Phangiso (3/33) and Pumelela Matshikwe (3/28) were the gleeful benefactors of the Cobras’ ill-judged shot selection.

“We obviously didn’t get enough runs. With no runs on the board we were always under pressure. We didn’t set up partnerships and some options the batsmen chose was probably poor in terms of the decision making, and unfortunately we were on the wrong end of it,” Adams explained.

When it was the Cobras’ turn with the ball, they failed to identify which lengths were suitable for the surface. Beuran Hendricks and Dane Paterson did not hit the right notes from the outset and it was bewildering to understand why Ontong kept his premier seamer, Wayne Parnell, back until the 13th over.

By that time the Lions had posted a comfortable platform of 61/0 with the visitors’ captain Stephen Cook setting out his stall to take his side home. And even though Parnell bowled his heart out, beating the bat on numerous occasions and eventually breaking through when Rassie van der Dussen edged behind, he was simply left with too much to do.

The left-arm seamer tried valiantly, though, coming back in his second spell to get the tournament’s leading run-scorer Alviro Petersen caught on the square leg boundary. He should have had Cook too, but Vilas dropped a straightforward catch behind the wicket.

It would have all been academic though with the Lions cruising to victory at that stage. Perhaps it was fitting that Proteas Test opener Cook was there at the end to hit the winning runs past fine-leg as it showed the Cobras the value of playing a batsman that was content to absorb the pressure before finding his range, once well set.

“It is very satisfying. It’s been a tough second half of the season for us with all the injuries and national call-ups. I am actually quite emotional,” Lions coach Geoff Toyana beamed.

Cape Times

Original source: Cobras substandard in all aspects

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