It has been a tumultuous season for the Cobras – the once dominant force in South African domestic cricket – since the brain explosion in the RamSlam T20 Challenge playoff defeat to the Dolphins at Kingsmead last year.
Two heavy defeats – one by an innings and 102 runs and the other a 10-wicket reversal to the Knights and Titans respectively – meant the Cobras were languishing in last place after the opening two rounds of the Sunfoil Series.
There were signs of improvement last week at Boland Park when the Cobras dominated their encounter against the table-topping Highveld Lions. But when the visitors hung on for a nail-biting draw with just one wicket remaining, it seemed as though victory would elude the home side for a while longer.
It certainly has been a tough initiation for new captain Omphile Ramela who is in his debut season leading the Cobras, especially as he has also struggled with the bat during this campaign thus far.
The 148-run victory over the Warriors in Port Elizabeth this past weekend will now, though, provide both Ramela and the Cobras with much-needed confidence as the Cape franchise moves up to fourth on the table.
After the exertions in the intense Paarl heat the previous week, coach Paul Adams had expressed his concern prior to the St George’s Park encounter that his bowlers, especially his faster men, may suffer from fatigue. This opening victory would be even more gratifying then due the performances of the seamers, especially Rory Kleinveldt. The burly paceman claimed a match haul of nine wickets (9/71), including a “five-for” in the last innings.
“Rory was really impressive throughout,” Adams said. “It certainly was a big effort.
“He is our most experienced bowler and he took on the responsibility of leading the attack. His opening over of the Warriors first innings set the tone for us in this match when he made those two early breakthroughs. That really set the game up for us.”
Kleinveldt’s performance was even more impressive considering the match was dominated by the spin bowlers. Proteas discard Simon Harmer snared a career-best 8/60 in the first innings and bagged another scalp in the second innings to finish with a nine-wicket haul, while current Test off-spinner Dane Piedt also took eight wickets in the match.
Unfortunately for the Cobras, they will most likely lose Piedt to the national squad this week when he rejoins the Proteas for the dead-rubber fourth Test against England at Centurion.
Adams will, though, be able to recall veteran Robin Peterson, who also claimed a match “nine-for” in his last outing, or the impressive young left-armer George Linde for the upcoming encounter against the Dolphins at Kingsmead.
“Getting this first win of the season is gratifying. The guys have worked really hard at training. They wanted this really badly after missing out last week against the Lions,” Adams said.
“We have the momentum now and we know what we can achieve if we play to our potential. We’ll train hard again this week and look at the combinations after a couple of training sessions and head to Durban with good momentum.” - Cape Times
Original source: Real sweet victory for Cobras