Sunday, 29 November 2015

WAYNE PARNELL played the innings of his life in the shortest format to take the Cape Cobras to second place on the RAM SLAM T20 Challenge log with a 6-wicket victory over the bizhub Highveld Lions at the Bidvest Wanderers Stadium on Sunday.

The Cobras now have 20 points with two games to play while the Sunfoil Dolphins have 18 points with one match to play which is against the Cobras. This match could well decide who finishes second on the log although the Warriors are by no means out of the picture either. The Cobras match against the Warriors on Wednesday is also a critical one.

The Lions can still reach the knock-out stage but they will have to win both their remaining fixtures. The Unlimited Titans are now confirmed as the top team on the log and get direct access to a home final.

Ironically, Parnell would never have got the chance to bat at the top of the order had the Cobras not suffered yet another injury – this time a freak concussion for opening batsman Richard Levi who was hit on the back of the head while fielding.

The turning point of the match, although it was not evident at the time, came when Parnell, who opened with Andrew Puttick, was caught by Thami Tsolekile off the bowling of Hardus Viljoen. On referral the delivery was confirmed as a no ball and Parnell, who had 20 at the time, went on to make a match-winning 99 (57 balls, 9 fours and 5 sixes). The next highest contribution to the Cobras’ winning total was Andrew Puttick’s 19 which illustrates just how much he dominated the runs chase.

The Lions looked to have posted a competitive total of 153/5 after winning the toss thanks to an unbroken partnership of 53 in 4.3 overs between Thami Tsolekile and Dwaine Pretorius but in the end they had no answer to Parnell’s onslaught.

Parnell was named RAM Slammer of the day while Justin Kemp, playing his 100th game in the T20 format, was named RAM Deliverer of the day for his figures of 2/26.

Levi was taken to hospital where he was diagnosed with mild concussion and kept in hospital overnight as a precautionary measure.

 

 

CAPE TOWN. – “We are focused on executing our game-plans against the spinners and we also want to get rid of their kingpin, Alviro Petersen, early. We have our destiny in our hands as two of our final three games are against some of the top teams, the bizhub Highveld Lions and the Sunfoil Dolphins,” said Paul Adams, the Cape Cobras coach.

The Cape Cobras meet the Lions at the Bidvest Wanderers Stadium on Sunday in a crucial Ram Slam T20 Challenge. If the Cobras win this one, they will considerably bolster their chances of hosting a play-off match at PPC Newlands.

The match will also see two experienced campaigners, Robin Peterson and Justin Kemp, return to the Cape Cobras line-up.

The fast bowler Wayne Parnell is fully fit and will travel to Johannesburg in what shapes as an important game for this left-arm spearhead. If he continues his fine season, he might just strengthen his chances of making the final ICC Twenty20 World Cup squad of South Africa.

Rory Kleinveldt, Parnell and Mthokozisi Shezi will have important roles to play against the star-studded top-order of the hosts. Petersen and Rassie van der Dussen are two batting aces for the Lions.

“This is a key game for us. It is a crunch time and we need to increase our tempo and our game,” said Adams.

“We want to take care of our own destination against two of the top-teams like the Lions and the Dolphins. We don’t want to wait for other teams to do us favours,” said Adams.

The Cape Cobras middle-order has a crucial role to play in retaining the momentum once Richard Levi and Andrew Puttick are back in the hut.

If they can do that, the Cape Cobras might not have much trouble in beating a talented but inexperienced Lions-team who looks slightly vulnerable if Petersen and Van der Dussen depart cheaply.

The Cape Cobras squad is: Justin Ontong (capt), Andrew Puttick, Richard Levi, Keegan Petersen, Lesiba Ngoepe, Justin Kemp, Siya Simetu, SA Engelbrecht, Robin Peterson, Wayne Parnell, Mthokozisi Shezi, Rory Kleinveldt, Lizaad Williams.

CAPE TOWN. – A bulging disc has ruled out Dane Paterson for one, and possibly two Ram Slam T20 Challenge matches.

Paterson (26) was the Cape Cobras’ spearhead the past season and a half. He captured 42 Sunfoil Series wickets last season  and nipped out 13 batsmen in the Ram Slam T20 Challenge in 2014/2015.

This season he has removed 10 batsmen in the domestic T20-showpiece. His 2-24 on Sunday was a major factor in the four-wicket win against the VKB Knights.

Paterson is a lion-hearted and committed performer, but the Cape Cobras’s strength in depth will now be tested due to several injuries which have left them vulnerable.

The experienced Kieron Pollard had already been ruled out for the remainder of the Ram Slam T20 Challenge due to a knee injury, while the left-arm swing bowler Wayne Parnell has a swollen foot and has not taken part in any net practices this week.

“I think the attack we have right now, is more experienced than the one we had last season,” said Paterson.

“Kemp (Justin Kemp) is also very experienced and could play a role (if called upon to replace Pollard),” said Paterson.

It will be vitally important for the Cobras to find the right balance in the lead-up to Sunday’s match against the bizhub Highveld Lions at the Bidvest Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg.

Paterson captured 4-33 in the Ram Slam T20 Challenge final last season.

The Cape Cobras will draw inspiration from the fact that the team that won the T20-tournament last season featured at least two greenhorns in the bowling department in GF Linde and Ferisco Adams.

It is vital, though, that the senior bowlers, Parnell,  Rory Kleinveldt and Peterson, are at their peak to lead the Cape Cobras’ quest for a home play-off.

CAPE TOWN. – Kieron Pollard, world-class all-rounder of the defending Ram Slam T20 champions, the Cape Cobras, won’t take part in the remainder of the domestic T20-showpiece due to an injury to his right knee.

He will fly back to the Caribbean on Wednesday.

The injury occurred while the 28-year Pollard was fielding in the T20-match against the VKB Knights at Boland Park in Paarl on Sunday.

Despite experiencing some discomfort, he hammered an unbeaten 22 off 13 balls to power the Cobras to a win to entrench their third position on the log.

“We are severely disappointed about the loss of a stalwart like Kieron, said Paul Adams, the Cape Cobras coach.

“Kieron has given his all. The fact that he went out to bat after he got injured, underlines his dedication and commitment to the team. He has been an inspiration to the whole squad.”

Adams said Pollard’s record speaks for itself. He was the domestic Ram Slam T20 Challenge player of the year in the 2014/2015-season and was at the summit of the Cobras’ batting averages (he averages 51.50 in the T20-format) at the time of the injury.

Yet mere statistics don’t do justice to Pollard’s contribution as his ability to change matches with his belligerence as a dashing batsman or with his expert change of pace with the ball, gave the Cobras the ascendancy in several matches the past season and a half.

Pollard had been on record saying the difference between winning and losing in Ram Slam T20 Challenge matches is about “who blinks first”. The lanky all-rounder was almost always the one to emerge victorious when the dust settled, as he showed during his stylish display on Sunday.

CAPE TOWN. – If he and the middle-order hit their stripes, terminate the tendency to score 20’s or 30’s and regularly struck big 50’s, the Cape Cobras will comfortably beat all-comers in the Ram Slam T20 Challenge, said Richard Levi. The hard-hitting Levi, who once hammered 117 off 51 balls with 13 sixes in a T20-International, made his bold prediction despite the fact that an injury jinx has left the Cobras vulnerable and almost in a state of despair.

They lost the services of their two premier left-arm spinners Robin Peterson and GF Linde through broken fingers.
To add to their woes, Kieron Pollard badly hurt his knee on Sunday while changing direction to field a ball after a wicked bounce in the Ram Slam T20 Challenge win against the KVB Knights at Boland Park in Paarl.

The brave West Indies all-rounder hobbled down the stairs after the Cobras had thoughts of replacing him because of his bad physical state, and smashed an unbeaten 23 off 12 deliveries. His defiance and bold boundary-hitting through clenched teeth and despite enormous discomfort carried the Cape Cobras to a four-wicket win.

Wayne Parnell, who captured 4-20 in the win against the Sunfoil Dolphins a week ago at SuperSport Park, injured his foot when hit on it while bowling at Paarl on Sunday. Both these stalwarts will undergo X-rays on Monday to determine the nature of their injuries.

Levi has been the Cape Cobras’ premier batsman in T20-cricket this season, smashing 226 runs at an average of 32.28 and a strike-rate of 161.42, but he has given himself only a 6 to 7 out of 10-rating.

“If you score 75 to 80 at a certain rate, your team will be winning 90 % of the matches. If I and the middle-order hit our straps and score big, we will comfortably beat any side,” he said. “We need to get us over the line.”

“I have been getting out regularly for 30’s, and yes, I have scored two half-centuries, but that is not enough,” he added.

Paul Adams, the Cape Cobras coach, agreed. “Richard keeps on getting out at the end of the power plays. If he can bat longer during the middle-period, and if we score 80’s at a strike-rate of 140 of more, we will make life easier for ourselves,” he added.

The Cobras middle-order has battled to assert themselves, but Levi has been more sympathetic to their performances than die-hard supporters with demanding and critical spirits.

“At times it is difficult to get going in the middle-period when the ball is not so hard, as the pitches are slower this time of the year.

“It is quite commonplace to see teams either score 180 for three through a very high-risk approach, or finish on 110 for nine. The conditions do play a role,” he said.

The Cobras, the defending champions in the Ram Slam T20 Challenge, sprung a surprise on Sunday by dropping Omphile Ramela, their batting hero in the domestic T20-final last season. Ramela, who finished the 2014/2015-season by smashing two consecutive Sunfoil Series-centuries, has not been at his stylish best this season.

He has only contributed 64 runs in six innings. “We have spoken to him. He has just been out of nick,” said Adams.

The two Ram Slam T20 Challenge matches this weekend hosted by the Cape Cobras at PPC Newlands on Friday against The Unlimited Titans and on Sunday at Boland Park in Paarl against the VKB Knights, will feature several world-class performers who can ignite any crowd with their explosive shot-making or sensational bowling.

This double dose of Ram Slam T20 action, however, will also be a dogfight about the summit of the Ram Slam T20 Challenge log and about who will consequently host the final of the domestic T20-showpiece in December.

The Titans are currently occupying top-spot. The Cobras are placed third on the log, and could leapfrog the Hennops River-team if they achieve bonus point-wins in both matches during the weekend.

Richard Levi, Kieron Pollard, Justin Ontong and Wayne Parnell are four of the Cape Cobras stalwarts who come to mind as game-changers. And Rory Kleinveldt is not far behind them, as his belligerent hitting and ability to strike regularly, propelled him into the national spotlight from 2012 to 2014.

The Titans have a top- and middle-order with an international flavour who can change the game in the blink of an eye, including Quinton de Kock, Albie Morkel, Farhaan Behardien, David Wiese and Chris Morris.

The only way to extinguish their fire is through the prodigious swing bowling of Parnell and Kleinveldt, the ingenious change of pace of Pollard and the seam bowling of Dane Paterson.

The Cobras have identified the middle-period as a weakness with the bat, but can rectify this if the talented Omphile Ramela reproduces the form that made him an irresistible force in the Ram Slam T20 Challenge final in December 2014.

Pollard, Ontong and SA Engelbrecht will play pivotal roles in building on sound starts by Levi and Andrew Puttick.
The Knights have flattered to deceive in the 2015/2016-season, but in Reeza Hendricks and Andre Russell they possess potential world-class T20-players.

The Cobras coasted to a four-wicket win against the men from Bloemfontein thanks to arguably their best, most cohesive batting display of the 2015/2016-season.

Paul Adams, the Cape Cobras coach, spoke about winning the key moments.

Pollard, the T20-stalwart of the West indies, has said: “He who blinks first, will lose. It is about keeping your composure.”

His inspirational presence might just be the X-factor that powers the Cobras to the top this weekend.

The Cape Cobras and The Unlimited Titans, the two in-form teams in South African cricket, are on a collision course at PPC Newlands in the Ram Slam T20 Challenge that might be determined in 12 pulsating overs, instead of the designated forty, simply because of the importance of the Power Plays. The match starts at 18:00 on Friday and will be televised on Supersport.

Following the departure of Kevin Pietersen, Richard Levi is arguably the most destructive batsman in South Africa T20-cricket.

He was targeted successfully in the previous clash between the two giant franchises by Chris Morris during the power play phase. The support cast for Levi has provided better contributions during the past two games, with SA Engelbrecht and Andrew Puttick showing some class.

Wayne Parnell, like Morris, has been sensational the past fortnight. Morris might have taken four wickets in the dismantling of the Sunfoil Dolphins on Wednesday, but Parnell did exactly the same on Sunday when he nipped out four batsmen for 20 runs including Pietersen, Dwayne Bravo and David Miller. Dane Paterson and Rory Kleinveldt have also excelled in patches.

The Titans possess fire-power in abundance, yet they have under-performed largely due to a mental problem. It is almost as if everybody has realized that there is always another batsman who can be a match-winner, and some of them have surrendered their responsibility to other stars.

Against the Dolphins, the Titans slammed 136 for nine, of which De Kock produced 38.

The Cobras possess a team capable of defending the Ram Slam T20 Challenge crown successfully, but they have been firing blanks on too many occasions in the period between the seventh and 12th over. If they rectify this alarming trend, they will be an irresistible force in the double-header this weekend, against the Titans on Friday at PPC Newlands and on Sunday against the VKB Knights on Boland Park in Paarl.

The Cobras squad is Justin Ontong (capt), Sybrand Engelbrecht, Rory Kleinveldt, Richard Levi, Lesiba Ngoepe, Wayne Parnell, Dane Paterson, Keegan Petersen, Kieron Pollard, Andrew Puttick, Omphile Ramela, Mthokozisi Shezi, Siya Simetu

THE Cape Cobras kept pace in the race for the RAM SLAM T20 play-offs after they triumphed by four wickets over the VKB Knights, who have now lost all six of their games in the competition.

On a Boland Park pitch that none of the batsmen were able to sink their teeth into, the Knights put up 140 for seven after being put into bat, which the Cobras eclipsed with three balls to spare.

While that suggested a close run chase, in truth the Cobras always looked in control after Richard Levi had scored a quick 36 and Justin Ontong had anchored the innings with his 40.

The Cobras were also grateful to Dane Paterson, who took 2 for 24 from four overs and, crucially, broke a threatening stand between Theunis de Bruyn and Andre Russell.

The Knights had slumped to 49 for three in the first half of their knock, but De Bruyn and Russell put on 51 in 34 balls to put them on track for a solid total.

Paterson ensured the pair were not around for the business end of the innings when he bowled Russell (27) and then completed the run-out of De Bruyn (45) in the same over.

With Levi scoring his runs from just 23 balls at the top of the Cobras innings, the scoreboard pressure was taken off the rest of the line-up.

Although they were pegged back by Dillon du Preez’s double strike in the ninth over and squeezed by Malusi Siboto’s canny bowling, which permitted just 15 runs in four overs, the required rate never rose above eight per over.

With Kieron Pollard’s firepower that was never a problem, and the West Indian’s unbeaten 23 from 12 balls saw the hosts over the line.

The Cobras remain in third place on the table, two points behind the second-placed Dolphins, but will feel that they are yet to hit top gear in the tournament.

THE Cape Cobras head into their crucial RAM SLAM T20 clash with The Unlimited Titans at PPC Newlands on Friday without their best two spinners after George Linde joined Robin Peterson on the injured list.

Linde fractured a finger on his bowling hand during the five-wicket win over the Dolphins on Sunday, and so the Cobras have been forced to call on Siya Simetu for their two games this weekend.

The left-arm spinner was a regular fixture in the Cobras side during the 2013/14 RAM SLAM, but did not feature at all last season and will need to adapt to the pace of the competition quickly.

The defending champions currently sit third with 12 points from five games, but need to rein in the Titans after their bonus-point victory over the Dolphins on Wednesday put them top of the table with 21 points.

“This is a key game – we need to take some points off the Titans now that they’re top of the log. We need to make sure that we’re ticking,” said Cobras coach, Paul Adams.

“We haven’t had the perfect game yet, and that’s what the players are striving for. We keep presenting that in front of them and hopefully it comes as we get close to the end of the league phase.”

A big part of the Titans’ success during their winning streak, which stretched to five games on Wednesday, has been their ability to think on their feet.

That may be a vital asset in Friday evening’s clash, which will be shown live on SuperSport 5, with the forecast suggesting that light rain may play a role at some stage.

“We’ve played on some funny wickets so far – some turners and some up-and-down wickets – so we’ve had to adapt our bowling plans on the field and I think that’s one thing we’ve done well so far,” reflected Titans captain, Albie Morkel. “We’ve assessed the situations quite nicely.”

Lungi Ngidi missed Wednesday’s game because he was writing exams, but has joined the Titans squad for the game against the Cobras.

HEAD TO HEAD – Cape Cobras v The Unlimited Titans

Matches Played 22
Cobras Win 10
Titans Win 11
Tie 00
No Result 01

 

MATCH STATS (RAM SLAM T20) CAPE COBRAS THE UNLIMITED TITANS
Highest Score 224/5 (Centurion 2010/2011) 222/4 (Centurion 2010/2011)
Lowest Score 114/9 (Cape Town 2004/2005) 105 (Centurion 2007/2008)
Highest Individual Score 93 JP Duminy    (Cape Town 2006/2007) 88* Gulam Bodi (Centurion 2009/2010)
Best bowling in a match 4/24 JP Duminy (Cape Town 2007/2008) 3/19 Justin Kemp (Cape Town 2004/2005)

CAPE TOWN. – A slightly more positive approach in the middle, capitalizing on explosive starts and a continuation of their excellent bowling would be part of the success recipe for the Cape Cobras in their crucial Ram Slam T20 Challenge at PPC Newlands against The Unlimited Titans on Friday, said Robin Peterson, injured stalwart of the Cobras.

Peterson said the bowling of the Cape Cobras is spot on and the fielding unit has definitely made a step up in their last few Ram Slam T20 Challenge games.

Wayne Parnell is getting back into the type of form that has made him a South African strike force.

Richard Levi has had the Cobras off to flying starts.

“One or two of the guys are just a bit tentative (in the middle) and scratchy. When you get in good positions, are positive and look to hit the ball, then it generally goes into the gaps. But when you try and deflect it, then it is when you struggle to get off strike,” he said.

Peterson said the batting could be a bit more structured after the fall of the first wicket.

The Cape Cobras have been on an attractive upward curve the past two matches by beating the KVB Knights with a splendid cohesive batting effort, while they also edged the table-topping Sunfoil Dolphins with a morale-boosting victory thanks to the 4-20 by Parnell and Levi’s pyro-technics.

Peterson will undergo a medical examination on Friday to review his rehabilitation from a finger injury.