Do-or-die time for Cobras and Dolphins
An almighty battle is brewing in the Momentum One Day Cup as the teams fight for positions in the one-off playoff match. While the bizhub Highveld Lions still seem to have a grip on the top spot on the log, the other five teams are all still in the running for the two playoff places in the match to be decided on 9 December.
In this context, the match between the Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras and the Sunfoil Dolphins at Sahara Park Newlands on Friday is the next in what looks to be a string of do-or-die matches as the teams vie for second and third spots.
The Dolphins go into the match holding on to third spot on the log after their match against the bizhub Highveld Lions was washed out on Wednesday. While the Cape Cobras are fourth, a win against their KwaZulu-Natal rivals will see them overtake them and they could even find themselves in second spot, depending on Friday’s results elsewhere.
Form players for the Dolphins are batsmen Vaughn van Jaarsveld and Imraan Khan. Some unbeaten innings have helped Van Jaarsveld maintain a solid batting average of 60, but his strike rate has been on the low side at 70. His 91 against the Chevrolet Knights last Wednesday set up the Dolphins’ first win, while Khan contributed 101 to his team’s successful chase against the Nashua Titans on Friday night.
David Miller has also been contributing consistently without producing a score of note. Former Western Province and Highveld Lions pace bowler Craig Alexander has made an impact after not being considered for the Dolphins’ first few matches. Offspinner Prenelan Subrayen has taken the most wickets in their campaign, albeit going at more than a run a ball, while Lonwabo Tsotsobe is starting to show the form which made him a top-ranked international bowler not too long ago.
Dolphins coach Lance Klusener is happy that his team is now picking up some momentum after its results last week. “It is nice to get some wins under the belt, but it has been a stop-start season for us with the weather.”
At least the abandoned match against the Highveld Lions has left him with a fit squad for tomorrow. “It is a big week for us. We will know where we stand after Sunday’s match in Pietermaritzburg as the teams are tightly clustered.”
Klusener is particularly excited about Subrayen. “He has come through the ranks and is full of confidence.”
The bowling will be challenged by an in-form Cape Cobras top order. Andrew Puttick has already passed 200 runs for the season at a healthy average of 51, and has an acceptable strike rate of 73. Richard Levi is getting back into the groove with fifties in both matches last weekend, and has scored 194 runs in the tournament at a strike rate of 109.
The middle-order has been disappointing as too many good starts have been squandered. There will be pressure on either Puttick or Levi to bat through the innings.
Coach Paul Adams will be more pleased with the form of his veteran bowling attack. Charl Langeveldt made the inroads into the Knights top order on Sunday, setting up what proved to be an easy victory. Young Boland quickie Lizaad Williams only got the ball once the damage was done, but still bowled a useful spell. The star turn has been Justin Kemp, whose nine wickets have come at an average of 18. More impressive is his miserly economy rate, grudgingly giving away no more than 3.3 runs to the over.
Adams feels that Kemp is in superb form with the ball. Williams has come through the youth system and was at the recent under-19 World Cup. “We want to give Lizaad exposure and nurture him, as he is a player for the future.”
He is hoping that his young middle-order batsmen will stand up and support Puttick and Levi. There was an injury scare for the experienced Justin Ontong, who injured himself taking a catch at Paarl, but he has responded well to treatment and Adams is confident that his captain will be available to take his place on Friday.
Although the south-easter is picking up, good weather conditions are expected. Play starts at 3pm.