Cobras gunning for the trebble
Sunfoil Series Champions and joint holders of the Momentum One Day Cup. Not a bad start for the former Proteas spin-bowler, and now head coach of the Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras, Paul Adams. Next up on the Cobras' radar is the RAM SLAM T20 Challenge, which was launched at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town on Tuesday.
The local T20 tournament offers a huge incentive to the two teams who reach the final, in that it guarantees qualification to the lucrative Champions League T20 tournament.
The defending champions of the local T20 competition, the Nashua Titans, reached the semifinal of the Champions League T20, losing to the eventual winners, the Sydney Sixers, who defeated the bizhub Highveld Lions in the final.
"It's going to be tough, very tough. There are a lot of good teams in this competition with some explosive players. Past results in the other competitions will count for nothing when the T20 starts," Justin Ontong told supersport.com at the launch.
The Cobras have won the local T20 competition twice, in 2009 and 2011, but Ontong called on his players to 'crank it up'. "We need more intensity from the guys because reaching the final means we qualify for the Champions League next season."
The Cobras made a slow start to the Momentum One day Cup, losing three of their first four games before making a strong run-in to the play-offs. The men from Cape Town had a strong and consistent Sunfoil Series, except for a hiccup against the Sunfoil Dolphins and the Lions, both at Sahara Park Newlands.
"We need to get mentally fresh again, and our preparation will be key for us to achieve our goals," stressed Ontong.
"We have some overseas players coming in, which is good for us, as they bring a vast amount of experience with them," Ontong said.
The Cobras will welcome back the former England International, Owais Shah, who was the leading run scorer with 293 runs in 2011. But the Cobras welcome into their fold, the former Pakistan allrounder, Azhar Mahmood.
The 37-year old, who turns 38 at the end of February, brings a lot of experience into the Cobras T20 squad. The right-handed batsman has played 158 matches, scoring 3174 runs at a strike-rate of 137.61 runs per 100 balls. The belligerent batsman also boasts two centruries to go along with his 16 half centuries.
Mahmood is also a very useful right-arm medium-fast bowler who has claimed 176 wickets in those 158 matches, with a best performance of 5/24.
"Azhar will miss the first game as he is still playing in Bangladesh," Ontong said. Mahmood, who plays for the Barisal Burners, leads the wicket stakes with 18 victims in 11 matches at an average of 15.22.
The Cobras open their tournament against their season-long foes, the Lions, at Senwes Park in Potchefstroom on Sunday, 17 February.