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A magical double hundred by Zubayr Hamza lit up the penultimate day of the decisive 4-Day Domestic Series encounter between the Hollywoodbets Dolphins and the table-topping World Sports Betting Cape Cobras in Pietermaritzburg on Wednesday.

The young right-hander recorded 201 (342 balls, 20 fours, 1 six) as the visiting side amassed 523 for seven declared, before the hosts reached 66 for none – still trailing by 147 runs – when bad light ended play with more than 20 overs still remaining.

It was a superb effort from Hamza, his maiden double at franchise level and the second of his first-class career, as his side claimed enough bonus points to ensure they were ahead of title rivals the bizhub Highveld Lions heading into the final day of the four-day campaign.

The Cape side will now know that the least they need to do on day four is match the result of their Gauteng rivals, who are playing the Warriors in Potchefstroom, in order to clinch the title.

And they showed good intent from the start of day three, which they resumed on 245 for three with Hamza on 104, alongside Kyle Verreynne (41). The pair stretched their partnership to 176 for the fourth wicket, before the latter was disappointingly run-out for 88 (167 balls, 7 fours).

However, Aviwe Mgijima made up for that loss by striking 61 (94 balls, 6 fours) as he and Hamza put on a further 95 for wicket number six, with George Linde (20), Vernon Philander (21 not out) and Dane Paterson (30 not out) all playing their part to help the Cobras establish a 213-run lead.

Keshav Maharaj sent down a whopping 56 overs for the most successful figures of two for 217.

It was then down to the home batsmen and they did not wilt under pressure thanks to Vaughn van Jaarsveld (19) and Michael Erlank (46) – the pair taking their side to stumps with all 10 wickets intact.

An unbeaten century by Zubayr Hamza helped the log-leading World Sports Betting Cape Cobras seize the advantage after two days of their decisive 4-day Domestic Series encounter against the Hollywoodbets Dolphins in Pietermaritzburg on Tuesday.

The right-hander, who made his Test debut for the Standard Bank Proteas against Pakistan earlier this month, was still batting on 104 (207 balls, 12 fours) and his side on 245 for three when bad light ended play early at the City Oval.

By that stage the visitors trailed by just 65 runs in what is their final match of the first-class season.

The Cape side held a lead of just over three points heading into the fixture and they are bidding to hold off the bizhub Highveld Lions, who are playing the Warriors in their last game.

And Ashwell Prince’s side enjoyed a perfect day two, which began brightly through a brilliant Vernon Philander burst that put them on the front foot right from the outset.

The South Africa seamer nabbed four wickets without conceding a run in 14 deliveries on the second morning as the hosts slipped from 293 for six overnight to 310 all out.

It gave him figures of four for 46 in 14.2 overs, with George Linde (4/62) also finishing with four wickets.

It was then over to the batsmen to fire, and led by Hamza, they did not disappoint.

Simon Khomari (14) put on 29 with the in-form Pieter Malan (44) for the first wicket, with the latter then adding 68 with the centurion for the second wicket.

A further 64 followed for the third wicket between David Bedingham (37) and Hamza, who went on to complete his 10th first-class century.

He was still there at the end sharing another useful stand of 84 unbroken with Kyle Verreynne (41 not out).

Standard Bank Proteas batsman, Zubayr Hamza, doesn’t want to look too far ahead, but admits the possibility of making his debut in the third Castle Lager Test match against Pakistan at Bidvest Wanderers Stadium is an exciting thought. Hamza was selected as the reserve batsman in the squad, and the suspension of Faf du Plessis has opened up an opportunity for the 23-year-old to make his first run at international level.

“I haven’t received confirmation if I am playing or not,” Hamza said at the Wanderers on Wednesday. “If given the chance that would be great, I have really enjoyed my time so far, the training has been intense and everyone has been welcoming. I have felt comfortable in the team surrounding, if given the chance I am looking forward to it. There is a lot of excitement at the moment.”

Hamza has had a sterling run at franchise level over the last two years, and boasts 3648 runs in 52 first-class matches with an average of 49, including nine centuries. Although he is lacking in match time after missing out on the Mzansi Super League (MSL) and a round of CSA four-day matches since he has been with the squad, he remains confident about his preparation and form.

“The month off (from the MSL) gave me perspective and I focused on working on myself and on my game,” he explained. “Yes I haven’t started off too well this season with franchise cricket but I don’t feel out of form. I still feel like I’m batting well and that I have a lot to offer. The runs and performances haven’t shown it but that is not how I feel, I have been batting well. I have been training well with the world-class coaching staff that we have here, I have learnt a lot so far.”

The Rondebosch Boys High School graduate grew up looking up to stars like Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla, but says he has been feeding off most of the players in the squad on what it takes to perform at international level. If selected, his personal brief will be to keep it simple and to rely on the formula that has brought him past success.

“I have learnt a lot from every individual in the team, whether it is on the field or off the field,” he said. “For me, I’d like to stay true to myself and stick to the game plans that have got me to this position. I will try to be self-confident and have self-belief.

“I have tucked under a few guys wings so far,” he admitted. “I’ve been leeching as much information as I can about what it takes to perform at this level, but I have also combined that with my own mixture to try and perform as an individual.”

If Hamza is the only debutant in the playing XI, he will be the 100th cap for South Africa since readmission.

The match is scheduled to start at 10h00 local time. Tickets can be purchased at www.ticketpros.co.za.

Participating in the USSA week in December and striking two half-centuries bolstered Zubayr Hamza’s confidence and he is still on course to become the 100th Protea to be selected since South Africa’s reintroduction into the international fold in 1991/92.

Hamza, 23-year-old number-three batsman of the World Sports Betting Cape Cobras, was selected in a 13-man squad for the three-match test series against Pakistan starting at SuperSport Park in Centurion on 26th December.

Linda Zondi, convenor of the CSA national selection panel, described Hamza as one of the standout cricketers in domestic cricket over the past year and carried that form into the South Africa ‘A’ tour to India where he averaged 52 in the four-day series.

Hamza scored 59 in the win for the University of the Western Cape against the NMMU and added an unbeaten 59 against the University of Cape Town.

“Not only are there a number of provincial players in the USSA week, but it also gave me opportunity to spend time in the middle,” Hamza said.

Reflecting on his career to date, Hamza acknowledged the match against the Warriors when he was drafted into the side after injury to Simon Khomari, as a turning point of his career in 2017/2018.

He immediately struck 111 and added 237 runs for the second wicket with Pieter Malan against the Warriors.

In the 2017/2018 season he finished with 828 runs at an average of 69, having only scored 151 runs in four games in the previous season.

Hamza heaped praise on Ashwell Prince and said he explained to the players what is expected at this level and also what the psychological expectations are if you are to represent South Africa.

As a combination, Prince, coach of the World Sports Betting Cape Cobras, and Faiek Davids, assistant coach of the World Sports Betting Cape Cobras, have had a big impact on his career.

Davids was the one that showed confidence in him and selected him for Western Province, while Prince, who played in 66 tests for South Africa, was instrumental in improving the mental aspect of his game. “Ashwell elevated the mental part of our game, having played for South Africa for a long time and knowing what is expected to be successful at that level.”

There is also a special “vibe” in the World Sports Betting Cape Cobras team under the coaching of Prince and Davids, he added.

Andrew Puttick, batting consultant of Western Province and the World Sports Betting Cape Cobras, said, “contrary to articles floating around, which gave me credit for Zubayr’s evolvement, I have not worked with him much this season, the great work has been done by Coach Ashwell Prince and his assistant Faiek Davids and as Zuby stated, there have been massive contributions from Shukri Conrad during his time at the Academy and from SA ‘A’ coach Russell Domingo.”

“I am very proud of this selection of Zubayr into the South African squad and I’m equally chuffed with the impact that the coaching staff of Ashwell and Faiek has had in his selection for the 13-man squad of South Africa,” concluded Nabeal Dien, chief executive officer of the World Sports Betting Cape Cobras.

“It is a brilliant selection. Zubayr Hamza made a statement with the bat last season and also grabbed the opportunity on his (first) away South Africa A tour to India,” said Dane Piedt, captain of the World Sports Betting Cape Cobras, about Hamza’s inclusion in the South African squad of thirteen for the test series against Pakistan.

“He’s got a good head on his shoulders and a sound temperament to win or save matches for his team,” said Ashwell Prince, coach of the World Sports Betting Cape Cobras.

“Last season we had to chase a score beyond 200 and Zubayr struck 108 not out against the Hollywoodbets Dolphins to win us the game. This season, we were in early trouble against the VKB Knights and he struck 57 to steady us and win us the game.

“Last season, he scored a century against the Warriors and with Kyle Verreynne, saved us the game,” Prince said.

Those performances under pressure convinced Prince that he’s got what it takes to play for South Africa.

The 23-year-old Hamza struck two centuries and three half-centuries in the last five Sunfoil Series matches last season and assembled 156 runs at an average of 52 against India A this year in his maiden away SA A tour.

“He plays well against spin and he is very versatile – he can open, play at number three or six. I said four months ago he is ready to play for South Africa and nothing has changed,” Piedt said.

“I was speechless when I learned of my selection. I was overjoyed and phoned my parents and thanked the Almighty,” Hamza said.

“If selected, I would try and keep it as simple as possible,” he added.

“The past three years, Shukri Conrad at the Academy made a massive difference to me and then Faiek Davids and Ashwell Prince at the World Sports Betting Cape Cobras and Russell Domingo at the SA A team played big roles.

“Russell spoke to me a lot of what is expected at the highest level and encouraged me.”

He said he wants to keep his confidence and self-belief and take pride in wearing the Proteas badge. The purpose is to embrace the challenge of representing the country and playing for 50 million South Africans while keeping his cool.

He matriculated at Rondebosch High School and played for SA Schools before breaking into the Western Province U19 group and then onto the provincial scene.

A great future beckoned for Hamza when at the age of 17 he became the fourth youngest South African to score a double century at first-class level.

In 2016, he was nominated as the provincial Three Day Cup player of the year at the CSA awards, but he has since broken into the Cape Cobras line-up.

This season he averages 31.87 and has scored 255 runs in the Four-Day Domestic Series.

“He is humble, has a solid technique and he keeps his feet on the ground. But ultimately, it’s his ability to win it or save it when under pressure because of the big match temperament that tells me he is ready to play for South Africa,” Prince said.

Zubayr Hamza, the 23-year-old World Sports Betting Cape Cobras batsman, has been named as a potential new cap in the Standard Bank Proteas squad for the three-match Test series against Pakistan which starts at SuperSport Park, Centurion, on December 26.

The other matches will be played at PPC Newlands from January 3 and at the Bidvest Wanderers from January 11.

Cricket South Africa (CSA) announced a 13-man squad for the series today that also features the return of VKB Knights fast bowler Duanne Olivier in place of the injured Lungi Ngidi. Olivier was part of the squad for the previous home Test series against Australia and has represented the Proteas in five Test matches.

“Zubayr has been one of the standout cricketers in domestic cricket over the past year and carried that form into the South Africa A tour to India where he averaged over 50 in the four-day series against tough opposition and under toughconditions,” commented CSA National Selection Panel (NSP) convener Linda Zondi.

“Before that, he had an outstanding season in the four-day franchise competition where he scored 823 runs, including three centuries, at the impressive average of 69.

“His selection is part of our vision for the future as we start to feed new players into the system. It is inevitable that some of our senior players will start thinking of retiring in years to come and it is vital that we have a good succession plan in place,” explained Mr. Zondi.

“As unfortunate as Lungi’s injury is we are blessed to have outstanding depth in our fast bowling resources. Duanne has impressed on his previous appearances for the Proteas and has had a good franchise season to date with 20 wickets in his five matches at an average of 22.80.

“Tladi Bokako will work with the squad as a learning experience during the series in a continuation of the initiative we started with Kagiso Rabada and continued with Matthew Breetzke earlier in the season. He has had a good debut season for the Cape Cobras with 21 wickets at 26.33 to date.

“We will continue to identify young players with the potential to become future Proteas,” concluded Mr. Zondi.

If Hamza gains selection in the final XI he will become the 100th player to represent the Proteas in the five-day format.

Standard Bank Proteas Test squad: Faf du Plessis (Multiply Titans, capt), Hashim Amla (World Sports Betting Cape Cobras), Temba Bavuma (bizhub Highveld Lions), Theunis de Bruyn (Multiply Titans), Quinton de Kock (Multiply Titans), Dean Elgar (Multiply Titans), Zubayr Hamza (World Sports Betting Cape Cobras), Keshav Maharaj (Hollywoodbets Dolphins), Aiden Markram (Multiply Titans), Duanne Olivier (VKB Knights), Vernon Philander (World Sports Betting Cape Cobras), Kagiso Rabada (bizhub Highveld Lions), Dale Steyn (Multiply Titans)

PAKISTAN TOUR TO SA 2018/19

December 26-30: 10h00, 1st Test match, SuperSport Park, Centurion

January 3-7 : 10h30, 2nd Test match, PPC Newlands, Cape Town

January 11-15 : 10h00, 3rd Test match, Bidvest Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg

A key half-century by Kyle Verreynne calmed the nerves of the World Sports Betting Cape Cobras and ensured they began the new 4-Day Domestic Series season with a tense four-wicket win over the VKB Knights in Cape Town on Thursday.

The young right-hander made an attacking unbeaten 51 (59 balls, 7 fours) after his side had hit early trouble, eventually getting them past the 194-victory target with the help of Rory Kleinveldt (19 not out).

There was also an important 57 (127 balls, 5 fours) from Zubayr Hamza, but in between his slower innings, the wickets kept falling until Verreynne made his mark.

Day four began with the Knights well poised on 240 for three – and with a 99-run lead. They continued to build on that through new captain Pite van Biljon, who added to his century in the first innings with 57 (99 balls, 10 fours) second time around, and Rudi Second (23). The pair extended their fourth wicket partnership to 59 when Tladi Bokako (2/64) intervened to remove the latter.

The visitors continued to look good when they crossed 300 at only five down, but some excellent bowling by Dane Paterson (4/68) proved to be their undoing as they slipped to 334 all out.

Ottniel Baartman (3/39) led a strong early fightback with the ball for the Knights as the Cobras were reduced to 59 for three.

But Hamza and Verreynne took them past the 150-mark at only four down, and, even though two more wickets fell, there was enough in the tank to give the hosts a winning start at PPC Newlands.

A second pre-season century by David Bedingham and an attacking 91 by Zubayr Hamza were the standout performances of a two-day match involving the World Sports Betting Cape Cobras and the Mpumalanga Titans in Johannesburg on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Bedingham scored his runs quickly, retiring on 100 after hitting 15 fours and three sixes.

Hamza’s stylish 91 came off 133 balls, an indication of his attacking stroke play at number three.

Ashwell Prince, head coach of the World Sports Betting Cape Cobras, was pleased about the innings of the visitors, and especially the time in the middle.

Prince underlined that the match against Mpumalanga Titans was not franchise cricket and not even a first-class match, but the time spent in the middle was precious and good preparations for the opening match of the season against the VKB Knights starting on October 1 at PPC Newlands.

Bedingham’s century, along with his previous pre-season century in a pre-season match during the recent trip to Durban, where he struck 101, has demonstrated the top-order batting depth at coach Prince’s disposal this season.

On Wednesday, the Mpumalanga Titans scored 319 in 89.1 overs.

Spinners Dane Piedt and George Linde were the most successful bowlers. Piedt captured 3-27 in 19.1 overs, while Linde finished with 3-46 in 13 overs.

“I have been bowling well. I am in a good space. All I want to do is contribute at the end of the day,” Piedt said.

“George was a bit more consistent than he was in the past. He is reaping the rewards for the hard work in the off-season,” he added.

“Bedingham is a solid batter, and he hits the ball very cleanly. He is potential test quality but he needs to put in the hard work first,” Piedt said.

On Friday and Saturday the World Sports Betting Cape Cobras will play in an inter-squad match at Wits University.

Get as close to the ball as possible and play it at the last moment – this has been the successful credo employed by the latest South African centurion – and it is a game plan that World Sports Betting Cape Cobras opening batsman Pieter Malan wants to borrow from Theunis de Bruyn when he represents South Africa ‘A’ in India in July and August.

Malan is one of two top-order batsmen from the World Sports Betting Cape Cobras who will represent South Africa ‘A’ against the India ‘A’ team in India. The other batting representative is Zubayr Hamza, while spinner Dane Piedt and fast bowler Mthiwekhaya Nabe complete the group of representatives from Cape Town heading over to India on Tuesday as part of the four-day squad.

Malan said he has taken some learnings about spinning conditions by watching the centurion De Bruyn score 101 in the second Test against Sri Lanka in Galle. It was De Bruyn’s first test ton.

“I don’t have a definite game plan whether to play on the front foot or back foot, but I know I must be clear in my decision making whether to go forward or backwards and commit myself with definite movement,” said Malan.

Although the conditions are tough and he has not played in India, he has played against spinners of international class which has helped him. The past season he represented the Cape side against Shaun von Berg and Tabraiz Shamsi – both of whom were in the Proteas touring test squad to Sri Lanka.

Hamza is looking forward to the tour but expects tough conditions: “It was beneficial to me that I went on the bowling and batting camp in India recently. I expect the conditions to be tough and I’ve decided that I want to get as close to the ball as possible when delivered by the Indian spinners. Or if I want to get out of the way, I need to be as far as possible from the ball.”

Malan and Hamza were part of the South Africa ‘A’ team that played against an Australian touring team last season and both have been heavy scorers for the World Sports Betting Cape Cobras.

Malan struck 892 runs at an average of 55.75, while Hamza hammered 828 runs at an average of 69 in the Sunfoil Series.

Malan also compiled 615 runs in the Momentum One Day Cup competition last season.

Ashwell Prince, the head coach of the World Sports Betting Cape Cobras, said he spoke to all the players on Monday and motivated them to adjust their game plans to the subcontinent as they will play half of their cricket against Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and India if they represent South Africa one day.

“We should not wish those conditions away, but formulate a game plan that makes us successful in foreign conditions,” he said.

“It is about learning as much as you can and adding to your skills set of playing spin to the rest of your game,” Prince said.

He said India has become the nation that has improved the most in foreign conditions while other nations, including South Africa, have gone backwards in foreign conditions recently.

Pieter Malan and Zubayr Hamza both recorded franchise-best scores as the WSB Cape Cobras battled back on day three of their Sunfoil Series clash against the Warriors at St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.

The pair shared in a superb 214-run second wicket stand to help the visitors reach 387 for eight declared, before reducing the host to 71 for two at the close, a lead of 136.

Day three was mainly about the performances of Malan and Hamza, with the former going on to make 124 (237 balls, 15 fours). It was a 24th time in first-class cricket the opener had recorded a three-figure score, but only the second time in the franchise competition.

For Hamza, his 111 (182 balls, 17 fours, 1 six) was a maiden century at this level surpassing his previous best score of 68 and his sixth ton overall.

After they departed, veteran Justin Ontong made 59 (71 balls, 9 fours), but there was not too much else from the Cobras batsmen.

Standard Bank Proteas spinner Tabraiz Shamsi managed one for 137 in 35 overs on debut for the Warriors, whose captain Jon-Jon Smuts picked up four for 38.

But his side then slipped to 23 for two thanks to a Dane Paterson (2/8) double strike, before Lesiba Ngoepe (23) and Yaseen Vallie (22) took them to the close in a solid position.