RAM Slam T20: Lions roar to comfortable five-wicket victory
Posted by: Cricket South Africa on Friday, 8 March 2013

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The bizhub Highveld Lions consolidated their position at the top of the Ram Slam T20 Challenge log with a comfortable five wicket win over the Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras at Sahara Park Newlands on Friday.

The Lions got home with ten balls to spare as they were never stretched in chasing down a target of just 118 after strangling the Cobras.  Captain Alviro Petersen put the home team in to bat after winning the toss, and the Cobras innings seldom got out of second gear.  Chris Morris led the attack with two early wickets, blows from which the Cobras never really recovered, and Petersen quashed any hope of a comeback for the home team with some quality boundary hits.

Boundaries were the deciding factor.  The Cobras managed just nine on an outfield that had been affected by rain during the day, but the Lions crashed seventeen - four of them over the ropes - as the Cobras bowlers were never allowed to settle. 

Quinton de Kock was an early casualty in the run chase, playing on to the impressive Beuren Hendricks, but Petersen showed intent as he looked to hit the bowlers off their line from the start.  Gulam Bodi did not last much longer than his opening partner, feathering a catch to the keeper as he attempted an upper cut, and Neil McKenzie fell trying to steer Azhar Mahmood to third man.

At 43 for three in the eighth over, there was some hope of the Cobras striking back.  Sohail Tanvir came in early to boost the run rate, and struck some telling blows.  The fielding wilted under the pressure.  Three catches went astray in successive overs as first Sohail Tanvir edged Vernon Philander between slip and keeper, and then both he and Petersen were put down at third man to catches that should have been taken.  That was really the difference, as Richard Levi had earlier gone for a duck to a brilliant catch by Imran Tahir at third man.

Sohail Tanvir did eventually depart for 28, made off 24 balls with three sixes and a four, and Petersen drove Hendricks into the hands of Philander at mid on two balls later.  That left the Lions on 92 for five, needing another 26 off 31 balls, and the Cobras were unable to maintain any sort of pressure with the odd boundary keeping the scoreboard ticking.

The end came in a manner which summarised a dismal performance  for the Cobras as a Charl Langeveldt half volley was put away through the covers, and called a no-ball to boot.

The Cobras relied on their seamers.  Hendricks, who was named Deliverer of the Day despite being on the losing side, returned career best figures of three for 17 as he continues to develop into a bowler to reckon with.  Azhar Mahmood was also effective.  Although he was punished in his final over, his first spell of three overs produced just five runs.  However well this pair bowled, their work was undone by an indifferent night out for Langeveldt, who went for 36 without completing his fourth over.

Not that they had much to bowl at.  None of the batsman was able to dominate a hard-working Lions attack, who gave little away.  Dane Vilas top-scored for the Cobras with thirty, and contributions of 25 by Owais Shah and a struggling unbeaten 21 from Justin Ontong simply could not post a winning total.  Morris and sohail Tanvir each claimed two wickets while Aaron Phangiso gave away just seventeen in his spell.

The Ram Slammer was Petersen, whose 46 off 36 with seven fours was the highest score of a disappointing evening for the good home crowd.

The Lions now consolidate their place at the top of the log, stretching their lead to five points even as the Chevrolet Warriors moved into second place.  The Cobras stay in fifth place, still two points behind the Titans.  These two teams meet on Tuesday in Paarl in what will surely be the 'last chance saloon' showdown of the season.


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