Cobras eager to build on lead
Paul Adams (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - The high-riding Cape Cobras are on their way to Pietermaritzburg to take on the Dolphins this weekend.
For both teams, this will be their last Sunfoil Series match before the competition breaks until December 20 to accommodate the Momentum 1-Day Cup.
The Cobras, thanks to their thrilling win over the Warriors last weekend, have a comfortable lead after their opening three matches, while the Dolphins are in an uneasy third place with less than one full point separating third and fifth places.
The teams had contrasting fortunes in their matches last weekend. Cobras coach Paul Adams was ecstatic with his team’s performance. Going into the final session of the match, it looked as if a sporting declaration agaonst the Warriors might have backfired. “The team pulled out the win by hanging in and trying different things," he said.
“We re-assessed their tactics at the tea break and we also owed the crucial breakthroughs to a big-hearted effort from Rory Kleinveldt, who was prepared to bowl a telling spell into the wind.”
He was still bubbling over after that victory, but realises that a new focus is needed as the Cobras jet into KwaZulu-Natal on the eve of the match. The squad is unchanged, giving Kleinveldt and Vernon Philander a last chance to go through their paces before heading off to Australia.
Dolphins coach Lance Klusener is known to be a man of few words, and likes to let the results do the talking. Unfortunately, the story the results have been telling has not fallen too pleasantly on his ears this season.
The Dolphins were all square with the Lions at the half-way mark of their opening match at the Wanderers, only to fall away to a 53-run defeat.
The Dolphins then had the Warriors on the rack in East London with seven wickets down and plenty of time to play. The knock-out blow never came as the eighth-wicket pairing of Simon Harmer and Andrew Birch could not be parted until bad light put an end to proceedings. And then the match against the Knights was abandoned without a ball bowled last weekend.
The squad is also basically unchanged. Exciting middle-order batsman David Miller has been included despite his Champions League T20 commitments to Yorkshire.
The Dolphins batting has been a bit patchy this season. Cody Chetty has been the best performer with 144 runs at an average of 48 from the two matches, while Imraan Khan and Jonathan Vandiar also find themselves in the Top 20 averages.
Contrast that to the Cobras batsmen. Alistair Gray has been in solid form, already putting together 267 runs at an average of 89. In his three completed innings to date he has passed fifty on each occasion and is the most consistent batsman this season. Opening partner Andrew Puttick has also scored heavily, backed up by good contributions from Stiaan van Zyl, Dane Vilas and Yaseen Vallie, all averaging over forty.
The Cobras batsmen are nevertheless coming up against Kyle Abbott in perhaps the best form of his career. He took nine wickets in the Warriors match and could hardly be faulted for letting the opponents off the hook, and has taken thirteen wickets this season at an average of 16.6. Craig Alexander, newly arrived in Durban from the Lions, has also been in the wickets. There is a Cape flavour to the Dolphins attack which also includes Dane Paterson.
Young off-spinner Prenelan Subrayen has taken the prime spin bowling spot ahead of the slightly more experienced Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi, and had some success bowling with the new ball in both innings in East London. Much will rest on his young shoulders.
Historically, the teams could not be better matched. In sixteen meetings to date, each has won four with eight matches drawn. The Cape side has not won in four visits to Pietermaritzburg. Their best performance at the City Oval was last season, where they posted a big first innings score but were unable to bowl the Dolphins out a second time. The weather did not help their cause on that occasion, and both teams will have an anxious look at the heavens.