Gray ton puts Cobras in control
When stumps were drawn on the third day of the Sunfoil Series match between the Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras and the Chevrolet Warriors at Paarl, the Cobras were in a dominant position on 282 for four.
Despite losing four wickets in the final session of the day, the home team now leads by 278 and have virtually reached a position of safety.
Resuming after tea on 190 for one with Alistair Gray in full flight, the second wicket partnership continued at a good tempo before Gray picked out Wayne Parnell on the boundary to give Simon Harmer a deserved wicket.
Gray has certainly done his job in this match, following up on his first innings score of 67 with his eleventh first-class century.
He occupied the crease for almost five and a half hours, scoring 125 off 236 balls (15 fours). He took 105 balls to reach his first fifty, then his next 75 came off just 131 balls, so he ended with an acceptable strike rate of over 50.
Stiaan van Zyl gave Gray good support as the pair added 116 in 41 overs.
This was a solid foundation, and captain Justin Ontong would not be perturbed that three more wickets fell as the shadows lengthened.
He should, however, be perturbed with his own form, as he chased a widish delivery from Basheer Walters to be dismissed for a single for the second time in the match.
The unlikely wrecker was Jon-Jon Smuts. First van Zyl departed for a well played 75 (182 balls, 9 fours), and then Justin Kemp hit a full toss to brother Kelly on the long on boundary in the final over of the day.
That came after Kemp had hit a huge six over mid-wicket in Smuts’s previous over. Yaseen Vallie will resume on day four on a solid 28.
Simon Harmer worked tirelessly, finishing the day with 42 overs to his name. He bowled 40 of the 96 overs of the day, and when the Cobras were looking to up the pace in the final session, his fifteen overs cost just 22 runs.
Jon-Jon Smuts will have a broad smile too, finishing the day with three for 32 after also taking three wickets in the first innings.
Play will resume tomorrow with the 103rd over in progress, and there is still no sign of the second new ball. The Warriors might be worried that the harder ball will enable the Cobras to up the scoring rate.
There was not much joy for the Warriors' bowlers earlier in the day, as the only wicket to fall before tea was that of Andrew Puttick, caught in the deep by Walters in Smuts’s first over of the innings.
With the lead already at 278, and considering that the average run total on the first three days has been 270, it will be interesting to see what target the Cobras will set tomorrow. They will probably not want to set a target of less than 350, but it already looks as if only one team can win.
Report Day 1
Report Day 2
NASHUA MOBILE CAPE COBRAS: Justin Onting (capt), Andrew Puttick, Alistair Gray, Stiaan van Zyl, Yaseen Vallie, Justin Kemp, Dane Vilas (wk), Vernon Philander, Rory Kleinveldt, Johann Louw, Dane Piedt.
CHEVROLET WARRIORS: Davy Jacobs (capt), Michael Price, Jon-Jon Smuts, Ashwell Prince, Colin Ingram, Kelly Smuts, Athenkozi Dyili (wk), Wayne Parnell, Simon Harmer, Adrian Birch, Basheeru-Deen Walters.