The Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras sealed their spot in the Momentum One Day Cup final when they beat the Nashua Titans by three wickets, with 21 balls left to spare in the semi-final clash at Sahara Park Newlands on Sunday.
A ton from AB de Villiers wasn’t enough to help the Titans as the Cobras prevailed thanks to a fine effort from skipper Justin Ontong with the bat and a five-wicket haul from Dale Steyn helped the defending champions get over the line.
The Cobras won the toss and chose to bowl first with a whole host of Proteas back in the side. Dale Steyn, Rory Kleinveldt and Robin Peterson all returned with Alistair Gray, Lizaad Williams and Charl Langeveldt dropping out whole Proteas Test skipper Graeme Smith was forced to sit out after being injured in training on Friday.
Steyn struck early for the home side, dismissing both Henry Davids and Heino Kuhn in quick succession, leaving the Titans in a spot of bother at 18-2 after 4.2 overs.
The returning Jacques Rudolph stuck around and chipped in with 24 off
32 before he was run out, attempting a quick single, but Dane Vilas reacted quickly and Rudolph’s bails were broken before he could make it back to the crease.
AB de Villiers and Farhaan Berhadien then combined for 120-run partnership with the Proteas wicketkeeper-batsman playing a magnificent knock of 107 off 123 before he was run out by Justin Ontong in the 43rd over. Behardien stuck around to add 47 off 68 before he became Steyn’s fourth wicket.
The Titans’ tail failed to make any impact and stuttered towards the end, finishing on 241-9 while Steyn ended on figures of 10-0-45-5.
The Cobras’ reply got off to a shaky start, with Andrew Puttick coming down the track and hitting straight to Eden Links at midwicket off Roelof van der Merwe, Stiaan van Zyl followed soon after and the home side found themselves in a pickle early on. Richard Levi was given his marching orders for 38 off 39, becoming van der Merwe’s second wicket.
Drama then followed as Vilas was given out obstructing the field when Wiese threw a ball back at him and the Cobras’ wicketkeeper put his bat up and hit the ball. After some deliberation on the field, the decision went upstairs and the third umpire decided to send him on his way.
Yaseen Vallie and Justin Ontong then added 109 runs for the fifth-wicket partnership, before Vallie hit a full toss straight to cover and had to go after adding 60 off 79. Robin Peterson was moved up the order ahead of Justin Kemp, but survived just two balls to make it for sticks for van der Merwe before he too was sent on his way and the Cobras were in need of 44 off 55 with just four wickets in hand.
Ontong and Rory Kleinveldt saw their side home, though, with the skipper notching up an unbeaten 82 off 81 while Kleinveldt finished off the match in style with two fours and a six as they cruised home with 21 balls still to spare.
Martin van Jaarsveld, skipper of the Titans, felt that his team was a bowler short, with Albie Morkel having to sit out through injury, but hailed de Villiers’ effort.
“We thought that 240 was a decent score, but we were a seamer short.
You can’t really replace a guy like that for a game like this. We tried really hard, but I definitely think we were one guy short on the bowling front.
“AB was exceptional and to play an innings like that when the ball is swinging is something extraordinary,” van Jaarsveld said.
The Cobras will now play the bizhub Highveld Lions in the final on 14 December and Ontong was pleased with the way his side performed and felt that they had enough time to prepare for the upcoming clash.
“I’m very happy with the win and I think it was set up really nicely by Steyn. The ball definitely did a bit more in the morning and we used those conditions to our advantage,” Ontong said.
“We thought that it was a bit of a tricky total, but we needed to build partnerships and Vallie and I did that by running well between the wickets and picking up boundaries where we could to help make it easier at the end.
“It's going to be a tough game against the lions to defend the cup, but we have a week to prepare for that match,” said Ontong.
Cobras: Richard Levi, Andrew Puttick, Stiaan van Zyl, Dane Vilas, Yaseen Vallie, Justin Ontong, Justin Kemp, Robin Peterson, Rory Kleinveldt, Dale Steyn, Johann Louw
Titans: Henry Davids, Heino Kuhn, Jacques Rudolph, AB de Villiers, Martin van Jaarsveld, Farhaan Behardien, David Wiese, Roelof van der Merwe, Morne Morkel, Eden Links, Tumi Masekela