The Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras continue their challenge for a hat-trick of trophies as they host the Sunfoil Dolphins in a Ram Slam T20 Challenge match at Sahara Park Newlands on Sunday.
The Cobras come into this match on the back of a good win over the Chevrolet Knights on Friday night at Paarl. Owais Shah, Richard Levi and Dane Vilas all made valuable contributions with the bat, while a thrilling cameo from captain Justin Ontong pushed the total beyond the visitors' reach. Ontong felt that it was important for the team to win after losing to the bizhub Highveld Lions in their opening match. "It was important to bounce back. The wicket at Paarl was not ideal for a flying start when we batted, but our new ball attack got us off to the start we wanted when we took the field."
Flexibility has been the characteristic of the Cobras' batting line-up this season. Ontong smashed twenty off just six balls to close out the innings, but chuckled at suggestions that he should move up the order. "We have a good batting line-up. Azhar Mahmood is an experienced player and a big hitter. We have some explosive players who are prepared to take the responsibility to take things through to the end of the innings. I was happy to contribute."
Left-arm seamer Beuren Hendricks also contributed. Often no more than a bit player in the one-day format, Hendricks has burst onto the scene with a truckful of Sunfoil Series wickets, and produced a stunning spell with the new ball on Friday. He was named the Ram Deliverer of the match for his efforts. He has made his skipper proud. "He is taking on responsibility, but is still going through a growing phase that we hope to see continuing. With Vernon Philander and Rory Kleinveldt out of the picture, he needed to step up his performances. He has benefitted from the experience of the likes of Charl Langeveldt and Johann Louw."
The Dolphins have had a difficult start to their campaign. After their opening match was washed out, they suffered a narrow defeat to the Lions on Friday. Coach Lance Klusener said that his team is looking for success in the shortest format, being the only franchise not to play in the lucrative Champions League T20. They qualified for the cancelled first tournament, but since then have failed to reach the domestic final. "This is the money-spinner tournament, although the First Class competition is still how we can gauge the quality of the team."
Robbie Frylinck took five for 16 against the Lions as the boys from Johannesburg were restricted to 129. "Robbie has the skills but needs to maintain his performances." The wickets came to his cutters, and that might prove to be an asset on a pitch at Newlands which is likely to be slow.
Much will be expected of Ravi Bopara, who stepped off an aeroplane yesterday only to be out first ball. "We are hoping for big things from Ravi. He is a quality player."
Klusener is not expecting to make any changes to his team from Friday night. Ontong is also happy with his team despite the ongoing injury to Justin Kemp. "Newlands has being playing a bit strangely lately. The pitch might be on the slower side, and we will consider playing another spinner."
The teams could not be better matched historically. In thirteen previous encounters, each team has won six with one tied. The teams met at the same venue in the first ever domestic T20 match in 2004, one of five encounters at this ground where the Dolphins have only savoured victory once.
Sunny conditions are expected as the match starts at the unusual hour of 4pm. The match will be preceded by the final of the CSA T20 Schools Challenge.