ALISTAIR GRAY dominated an absorbing third day OF the Sunfoil Series match at Boland Park, recording his 11th first-class century as he put the Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras in a commanding position. The Cobras finished the day on 282, a lead of 278 with five wickets still in hand.
It was hard going for the Chevrolet Warriors, who had to wait until after tea for their second wicket of the day. The opening pair of Gray and Andrew Puttick put on 93 before the latter was well caught in the deep by Basheer Walters for 29 (111 balls, 4 fours 1 six). Gray and Stiaan van Zyl batted through the second session on their way to a partnership of 116 in 41 overs.
Gray, who made the top score of 67 in the Cobras first innings, subjected the Warriors bowlers to a gruelling day in the worst of the heat. His fifty came off 105 balls as he was content to pick off the loose balls. He accelerated after lunch, needing just 79 balls for his second fifty.
The rate slowed down a bit again after tea in the face of some accurate bowling from Simon Harmer, in particular, but when Gray was eventually caught on the fine leg boundary by Wayne Parnell, he had made 125 off 236 balls (15 fours). His innings lasted five hours 21 minutes and was his fifth in the colours of the Cobras.
Van Zyl also started slowly before pushing up his scoring rate in the final session. He was eventually bowled by Jon-Jon Smuts for 75 (182 balls, 9 fours). Justin Ontong marked a disappointing debut as Cobras captain when he was dismissed for a single for the second time in the match, but Justin Kemp did land some telling blows, including a huge six off Smuts late in the day.
However, Kemp, not content to block out the final over, failed to connect properly with a full toss from Smuts and was caught by brother Kelly at long-on. Yaseen Vallie has also looked in good form, and is unbeaten on 28.
Jon-Jon Smuts was again the main wicket-taker. He ended the day with three for 38, and took his tally of wickets in the match to six. Spare a thought for Simon Harmer. Of the 96 overs in the day, he bowled almost half, sending down 40 after bowling two late yesterday. He maintained good control, in particular when the Cobras were looking to put some quick runs on the board against a tiring attack. Harmer took one for 22 in fifteen overs in the session, of which four were maidens.
Harmer had just one wicket to boast of despite maintaining an economy rate of just over two. Davy Jacobs used eight bowlers in an attempt to make the breakthroughs.
There has been an average of 270 runs per day, and it remains to be seen what Ontong might think is a safe declaration. The Warriors already know that they will have to make a special effort if they want to win even if the spinners are able to rout the tail early tomorrow. The new ball is still an option which Jacobs can call on any time tomorrow.