Cobras dominant in Benoni
An 80-run partnership between Stiaan van Zyl (44 not out) and Alistair Gray (43) guided the Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras to 109 for two and a first-innings deficit of just 85 at stumps on day one of their Sunfoil Series match against the Nashua Titans at Sahara Willowmoore Park in Benoni on Thursday.
Having won the toss and elected to bowl first, the Cobras dismissed the Titans for 194 by tea, with Johann Louw being the pick of the bowlers with four wickets.
Shaun von Berg top-scored for the hosts with 47, while useful contributions from Roelof van der Merwe (36) and Juan de Villiers (28) salvaged the innings somewhat after a wretched start.
With the Titans having been bowled out on the stroke of tea, the opening pair of Gray and Andrew Puttick (11) got the Cobras’ reply under way at the start of the third session.
Puttick put left-arm paceman Rowan Richards under the cosh immediately, as two boundaries and four byes saw the visitors race to 13 without loss after the first over.
Gray was rather more sedate at the other end in the overs that followed, and the pressure seemed to tell on Puttick as he was trapped in front of his stumps by Juan de Villiers in the eighth over with the score on 26.
However, the arrival of van Zyl at the crease galvanised Gray into action, and the pair began to play with fluency.
Gray brought up the fifty for the Cobras with a fine stroke to the fence off CJ de Villiers, and the partnership continued to sail along at four runs per over.
Van Zyl’s second boundary raised the fifty partnership from just 72 deliveries, and when the visitors passed the century mark with just six overs left in the day’s play, it appeared as though both men would reach stumps undefeated.
However, Gray succumbed to the lesser-hailed medium-pace of Farhaan Behardien with just 20 deliveries remaining when he was caught by Titans skipper Henry Davids for 43.
Van Zyl remained resolute at the other end though, and reached the close just six runs shy of his 24th first class half-century.
Night-watchman Dane Piedt was unable to get off the mark, but kept his wicket intact after dealing with 12 deliveries, and the duo will look to further reduce the first-innings deficit when play resumes on Friday morning.
The Titans’ innings had earlier made the worst possible start as openers Heino Kuhn (5) and Francois le Clus (0) lost their wickets within the first five overs.
Proteas ODI batsman Behardien (3) then lasted just 12 deliveries, and when Charl Langeveldt had Graeme van Buuren (4) caught with the final delivery before the morning drinks break, the hosts had been pegged back to 26 for four.
Henry Davids (22) and Mangaliso Mosehle (14) offered some resistance, but both men fell shortly before lunch to leave their side in disarray at 60 for six when the players broke for the interval.
A 78-run partnership between Von Berg and Van der Merwe restored some much-needed respectability to the Titans' innings in the second session, but both men fell within an over of each other and the Cobras were once again on top with the score on 143 for eight.
Some late fireworks from Juan de Villiers (28) propelled his team to within sight of the 200 mark, but he was last to be dismissed as he became Louw’s fourth victim of the innings in the 63rd over.
It meant the Cobras collected all four bonus points on offer in the first innings bowling stakes, while the Titans could manage only 1.88 points in their efforts with the bat.
NASHUA TITANS: Heino Kuhn, Francois le Clus, Henry Davids (capt), Graeme van Buuren, Mangaliso Mosehle (wk), Farhaan Behardien, Roelof van der Merwe, Shaun von Berg, CJ de Villiers, Juan de Villiers, Rowan Richards
NASHUA MOBILE CAPE COBRAS: Andrew Puttick, Alistair Gray, Stiaan van Zyl, Justin Ontong (capt), Yaseen Vallie, Dane Vilas (wk), Justin Kemp, Johann Louw, Dane Piedt, Beuran Hendricks, Charl Langeveldt