Sunfoil Series

Cobras dig deep at Newlands

2014-12-20 00:11
Rory Kleinveldt (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - The Cape Cobras were digging deep in a battle for survival at the end of the second day's play of their Sunfoil Series match against the Highveld Lions at Newlands on Friday.

When stumps were drawn, they were hanging in at 214/4, thanks to the sterling efforts of captain Justin Ontong (60 not out) and Dane Vilas (63 not out).

But they are still 199 runs behind the Lions' formidable offering of 413, ground out over 132 overs on Thursday and into the second session on Friday.

Those two came together when the Cobras' fourth wicket fell at 76, just 21 overs into the innings. Ontong had faced 135 balls and restricted himself to just five fours, while Vilas was on 63 off 104, a racy display in comparison, with eight fours. That immeasurably valuable stand of 138 has at least given the hosts a fighting chance, but much work lies ahead.

The Cobras knew they had a fight on their hands when they came to the crease, but they were dealt a hammer blow before tea, when the Lions dismissed Andrew Puttick (13), Omphile Ramela (9) and Richard Levi (38), all to the pace of Chris Morris, Kagiso Rabada and Dwaine Pretorius. Yaseen Vallie followed soon after the break for seven, the second of Pretorius's victims.

The Lions owe their total to sweat and hard labour.

Returning to the field on Friday morning on 294 for six, based on a stand of 210 by Neil McKenzie (125) and Dominic Hendricks (99), Pretorius and Morris showed their versatility and raised the tempo with a stand of 83 off 119 balls, at a run rate of just over four, for the seventh wicket.

They provided a much-needed impetus to an innings which had been shackled by the Cobras' bowling on the first day. Morris had just reached 37 when he was caught behind off Dane Paterson, and Pretorius followed soon after, caught and bowled off the spin of George Linde, having compiled a valuable 53 off 74 balls (8x4).

Kagiso Rabada (24) and Pumelela Matshikwe (24) added 38 for the last two wickets to cap a gritty performance.

The Cobras are playing the opening game in defence of their first-class title, having missed the first two rounds back in September and October while on duty at the Champions League in India. But they are going to have to dig deep to turn this around.


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