Paarl - Richard Levi struck a career-best 166 on Wednesday night to propel the Cape Cobras past the Titans and ensure the defending champions will have home ground advantage for Sunday's One Day Cup playoff.
Levi’s knock was the mainstay of the Cobras’ innings as they romped to a 111-run victory over the Pretoria side.
The hosts, who won the toss and chose to bat, made 316/7, which was simply too much for the Titans, who were bowled out for 205 in just 41 overs.
The only disappointing news for the Cobras on the night was that they failed in their quest to secure a home final after the Highveld Lions' clash against the Knights was abandoned without a ball bowled in Kimberley.
This, however, took none of the sparkle off Levi’s fine innings that required just 134 balls. Boland Park was way too small for the muscular opening batsman, who bashed 12 fours and six huge maximums.
Levi equalled the record for the highest individual score this season, following Henry Davids’s equally destructive knock against the Knights in Kimberley last week.
Levi and Andrew Puttick (46) set the platform for the Cobras’ imposing total with a 158-run opening stand. Puttick was comfortable to play the anchor role through good rotation of the strike, allowing Levi to blast away from the other end.
The home side lost no momentum when Puttick departed. Stiaan van Zyl showed deft touches during his innings and added a further 108 runs with Levi for the second wicket. The pair batted deep into the innings, only being separated in the 44th over when Levi chipped the ball calmly back into Titans skipper Martin van Jaarsveld’s hands.
Levi made his way to the pavilion to a standing ovation from the Paarl faithful, who had appreciated a truly mature innings from the Proteas Twenty20 international.
The Cobras lost their way a bit after Levi’s dismissal, losing a further five wickets, but still managed to add another 50 runs to leave the Titans with a daunting target.
The two De Villiers's - JP and CJ - were the most successful bowlers for the visitors, with both claiming two wickets, but JP de Villiers’ scalps came at a cost of 70 runs.
The Titans’ only chance of getting close to the Cobras’ total was if their own 'master blaster', Davids, got off to a flyer too. But this was not to be, with the former Cobras man belting a long hop from Johann Louw straight to Andrew Puttick when he had just seven.
The home side were struck a severe blow during the dinner break when veteran opening bowler Charl Langeveldt pulled up with a groin strain and could play no part in the Titans' innings.
However, even with the Cobras a bowler short, the visitors could not pose a realistic threat, with only Mangaliso Mosehle (56 off 62 balls) and skipper Van Jaarsveld (44 off 43 balls) posing any resistance.
Former Cobras captain Justin Kemp showed his value to the team by claiming 3/49 on his return, after missing their last two matches due to a hamstring strain.
The Titans, though, will have a chance to avenge this loss on Sunday when they face the Cobras again in the one-off semi-final at Newlands.
Cobras: Andrew Puttick, Richard Levi, Stiaan van Zyl, Dane Vilas (wicketkeeper), Justin Ontong (captain), Yaseen Vallie, Justin Kemp, Alistair Gray, Johann Louw, Charl Langeveldt, Lizaard Williams.
Titans: Heino Kuhn (wicketkeeper), Henry Davids, Mangaliso Mosehle, Martin van Jaarsveld (captain), Farhaan Behardien, Albie Morkel, Dawid Wiese, Roelof van der Merwe, Eden Links, CJ de Villiers, JP de Villiers.