STEPHEN COOK struck a magnificent 108 not out off 93 balls to help the bizhub Highveld Lions to an emphatic 89-run victory over the Sunfoil Dolphins in their reduced Momentum One-Day Cup clash at the Bidvest Wanderers Stadium on Sunday.
The game was reduced to 37 overs a side after a damp pitch delayed the start of play by two hours.
Sunfoil Dolphins captain Daryn Smit won the toss and chosen to field first. The bizhub Highveld Lions responded by posting a competitive-looking total of 246 for five in their allotted 37 overs courtesy of a sensational century by their skipper.
The Sunfoil Dolphins put up a weak effort with the bat and only Jonathan Vandiar who made 49 off 51 deliveries offered any meaningful hope for the visitors.
The bizhub Highveld Lions attack, spearheaded by Aaron Phangiso (8-1-37-3), bowled the Dolphins out for just 157 in 31.1 overs, and the home side claimed their fourth successive victory as a result and their third with a bonus point. They now lead the way in the Momentum One-Day Cup standings by a commanding 10 points.
For the Sunfoil Dolphins, the defeat marked yet another frustrating day as they have still yet to play a full game in the competition. Only a washed-out affair against the Chevrolet Warriors has yielded them any points, and it leaves them languishing in fifth place on the log.
Cook’s ton was by far the standout performance with the bat for the bizhub Highveld Lions, although other useful contributions from the batsmen around him enabled the home side to set the Sunfoil Dolphins a daunting target of 247 for victory.
The Sunfoil Dolphins reply got off to a poor start as opener Cameron Delport (four off four balls) was dismissed by the in-form Hardus Viljoen (6.1-0-31-2) in the second over with the score on 13.
Vandiar, the other opener, was joined by captain Daryn Smit (16 off 16 balls) and the two kept the run-rate up with a swift partnership of 39 off 32, before the skipper chopped one onto his stumps off the bowling of Zander de Bruyn to leave the visitors at 52 for two after seven overs.
The next man in was Vaughn van Jaarsveld (11 off 35 balls), but he struggled to get the ball away throughout his innings and it was left to Vandiar to keep things moving along. The left-hander continued to find the fence at regular intervals, but the lack of runs at the other end eventually told as he was caught behind off the bowling of Pumelela Matshikwe (7-1-22-2) in the 16th over to leave his side at 89 for three.
Van Jaarsveld’s painful innings came to an end soon after, but David Miller (34 off 36 balls) looked good from the moment he came in and kept the Dolphins’ faint hopes alive. He and Cody Chetty (10 off 14 balls) tried to take the attack to the bizhub Highveld Lions bowlers, but Phangiso did the damage as he dismissed Chetty in the 25th over and then Miller in the 27th to leave Lance Klusener’s side dead in the water at 141 for 6.
Wickets tumbled from that point onward, and the bizhub Highveld Lions wrapped up the innings to complete a comfortable 89-run victory and a bonus point. Astonishingly, the Lions have now also bowled out their opponents in all four of their fixtures thus far, and their formidable squad looks to be getting stronger with each outing.
bIZHUB HIGHVELD LIONS - Stephen Cook (capt), Temba Bavuma, Gulam Bodi, Zander de Bruyn, Quinton de Kock (wk), Neil McKenzie, Chris Morris, Pumelela Matshikwe, Aaron Phangiso, Jean Symes, Hardus Viljoen
SUNFOIL DOLPHINS - Daryn Smit (capt) (wk), Kyle Abbott, Cody Chetty, Cameron Delport, Robbie Frylinck, David Miller, Mthokozisi Shezi, Prenelan Subrayen, Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Jonathan Vandiar, Vaughn van Jaarsveld