Steyn, Ontong see Cobras into final
Justin Ontong played a captain's knock of 81off 82 balls with six fours and and three sixes to see the Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras over the line in their Momentum One Day Cup playoff match against the Nashua Titans at Sahara Park Newlands in Cape Town on Sunday.
Full scorecard – Cobras v Titans
Under a cloudless Newlands sky and with a place in Friday's final against the bizhub Highveld Lions at stake, the home side made heavy work of chasing 242 for victory, at one point slumping to 89 for four, and were in trouble again at 198 for six in the 41st over.
Ontong earlier won the toss and chose to have a bowl on a pitch that offered some bounce and movement in the first ten overs, with champion fast bowler Dale Steyn making best use of the conditions, picking up five for 45 off his ten overs.
A sparkling 107 off 123 balls with 11 fours from AB de Villiers boosted the Titans' score to 241 for nine off 50 overs, after the visitors had struggled to 85 for four in the 20th over, with Johann Louw and Rory Kleinveldt providing steady support to the world's No 1 bowler.
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Farhaan Behardien was the perfect foil to De Villiers in a fifth-wicket partnership of 120 runs off 22.5 overs, and together the pair provided an ideal platform for an assault in the last nine overs.
It was not to be however, as Behardien set off for a quick single in the 43rd over after dropping the ball down to backward point. Ontong duly pounced and whipped in a direct throw which broke the stumps and sent the centurion on his way back to the pavilion.
The wicket proved pivotal, as Dale Steyn returned for his last spell in the 47th over and immediately struck with his first ball, the dangerous David Wiese nicking a ball which moved fractionally off the seam, to Vilas behind the stumps.
Steyn was not done, as any hopes of a late slog were extinguished three balls later when Behardien drove early at a slower ball, succeeding only in toe-edging a catch to Kemp at a straight mid off, departing three runs short of a half century off 68 balls with two boundaries.
Two balls later it was Morne Morkel who fell when Steyn uprooted the off-stump, ripping through Morkel's defences from around the wicket to pick up his fifth wicket.
IMPRESSIVE ALL-ROUND BOWLING PERFORMANCE
Johann Louw rounded off an impressive all-round bowling performance for the Cobras, finishing with one for 46 off his ten, while Kleinveldt was solid, ending with one for 38 off ten controlled overs, as the Titans stuttered to 241 for nine in 50 overs.
The Cobras' reply started cautiously after Titans skipper Martin van Jaarsveld opened with the off-spin of Roelof van der Merwe.
The move yielded benefits early when Van der Merwe had Andrew Puttick leaving his crease to crack a ball straight to a waiting Eden Links at short mid-wicket who held onto an excellent catch - the Cobras opener gone for just two.
Stiaan van Zyl joined the dangerous Richard Levi and together the pair put on 33 runs, with Levi being particularly severe on Tumi Masekela, before van Zyl departed for 11, top-edging a Morne Morkel delivery to third man, where Masekela made sure of the catch.
Martin van Jaarsveld dropped a straight-forward chance at first slip off Morkel to gift Dane Vilas a lifeline in the 13th over, however Van der Merwe's persistence at the other end paid off an over later when danger-man Levi looked to go over the field but failed to connect adequately, Eden Links bagging the catch on the long-off fence. Levi made 38 off 39 balls, with five fours and a six.
Vilas rode a second bit of good fortune when an attempted reverse sweep off Links's first over appeared to hit the glove and go straight up. Heino Kuhn ran around from behind the stumps and claimed the catch, but umpire Marais Erasmus turned the appeal down.
The Cobras gloveman's luck finally ran out courtesy of a bizarre dismissal in the 19th over. Vilas blocked a ball from David Wiese, who then gathered the ball and threw it straight back at the batsman's toes, ostensibly in an attempt to run the Cobras keeper out.
Instinctively, Vilas blocked the ball a second time, and the Titans appealed. Third umpire Johan Cloete deliberated for around five minutes, until Vilas was finally given out, obstructing the field. Vilas's 34-ball innings yielded 27 runs with two boundaries.
With the home-side in a spot of bother at 98 for four, skipper Ontong and Yaseen Vallie steadied the ship with a 109-run partnership off 21.5 overs.
With the score on 198, the impressive Vallie fell for 60 off 79 balls with two fours and a six to a Van der Merwe full-toss - caught in the covers by De Villiers.
The talismanic Titans tweaker struck with his next ball, yorking Robin Peterson for a first-ball duck to set up a hat-trick and set the home side on edge again at 198 for six in the 41st over. He failed to convert the hat-trick but kept his side in the game with the excellent figures of four for 29 off his ten overs.
Ontong, who progressed to his 50 off 65 balls with a straight six into the sight screen off Eden Links in the 40th over, proceeded to unleash some further heavy-hitting, lashing two successive sixes off Henry Davids in the 46th over.
Together with Rory Kleinveldt, who blasted 14 off just three balls with two fours and a six, the pair saw the Cobras home to set up a mouth-watering final with the Lions in Johannesburg on Friday.
CAPE COBRAS: Richard Levi, Andrew Puttick, Stiaan van Zyl, Dane Vilas (w/k), Yaseen Vallie, Justin Ontong (c), Justin Kemp, Robin Peterson, Rory Kleinveldt, Dale Steyn, Johann Louw
TITANS: Henry Davids, Heino Kuhn (w/k), Jacques Rudolph, AB de Villiers, Martin van Jaarsveld (c), Farhaan Behardien, David Wiese, Roelof van der Merwe, Morne Morkel, Eden Links, Tumi Masekela