CENTURION. – The two key moments were the way the Cape Cobras started with the ball and bat in claiming their five-wicket victory against the table-topping Sunfoil Dolphins at SuperSport Park, said Justin Ontong, the victorious skipper.

Richard Levi was at his belligerent best in his magnificent 61 off 28 balls with five fours and five sixes in setting up the win in the Ram Slam T20 Challenge clash on Sunday. The Dolphins struck 148 for nine, while the Cobras finished on 152 for five with two balls to spare. SA Engelbrecht keep his cool in the moment critique to guide the Cape Cobras to victory.

Arguably one of Levi’s best shots was his effortless clip off his hip off Ryan McLaren. He hammered two successive sixes off the South African bowler, and also struck 14 in an over bowled by Dwayne Bravo.

“He is such an important player for us to ensure us momentum. The only thing that he can improve on, is consistency, because it is either a duck or a 70 or 80,” said Ontong.

The Cobras reached 64 without loss after 5.3 overs before The Bear, as Levi is known, holed out to Kevin Pietersen off Dwayne Bravo.

Ontong also sung the praises of Wayne Parnell, whose four for 20 limited the Dolphins to 148 for nine. The left-arm swing bowler struck with two consecutive deliveries, removing the in-form Kevin Pietersen and Bravo to rock the Dolphins middle-order.

“Wayne has worked very hard with Paul Adams (the Cape Cobras coach) to improve his action and he has regained some of his rhythm. He is also getting his action right.

“His self-belief is returning, and with that you will see more consistent swing,” Ontong said.

“I thought Mthokozisi Shezi summed up the situation at the end of the innings superbly and was pro-active with his bowling,” said Ontong.

“Kieron Pollard was also a factor in keeping the players very calm as he knows the pressure-situations so well,” added Ontong.

Levi struck 392 runs in the 2014/2015-season and was a consistent threat with the blade, as he took attacks apart in the first six overs.

It was vintage Levi again on Sunday, as he demoralized Craig Alexander and McLaren early on, while playing a touch more sedately against the spinner Keshav Maharaj.

CAPE TOWN. – The rejuvenated Cape Cobras know an improved bowling performance will be pivotal in their Ram Slam T20 Challenge clash against the table-topping Sunfoil Dolphins at SuperSport Park in Centurion on Sunday.

Justin Ontong, the Cape Cobras skipper, admitted the fast bowlers did not hit their straps straight away in Wednesday’s pulsating T20-match against the VKB Knights. Reeza Hendricks got off to a flyer.

“We know we have to improve with the new ball. We will be up against a dangerous top-order,” said Ontong.

The Dolphins middle-order recently imploded against The Unlimited Titans when the off-spinner Henry Davids captured three wickets in eight balls.

Ontong is aware of the importance of good off-spin bowling to challenge the middle-order batsman David Miller and his left-handed colleague Vaughn van Jaarsveld.

“SA Engelbrecht and I will have to be accurate. Recently, when I bowled against Qaasim Adams, I thought I had the beating of him, but the ball still travelled (off the outside half of the bat) over the boundary at SuperSport Park,” he added.

The dry conditions at SuperSport Park in Centurion on Sunday could offer ample opportunities to the spinners of the Cape Cobras, and their self-belief would have been bolstered by the excellent four for 21 by the left-arm spinner GF Linde against the VKB Knights.

Ontong said the Cape Cobras have discussed strike-rates extensively. In T20-cricket, openers have to bat at a strike-rate of 125 to 130. And if the middle-order batsmen are chasing a sizeable target, a strike-rate of 150 to 180 might be required. “We have spoken about greater urgency being required. You cannot bat at a run a ball in T20-cricket,” Ontong said.

The Cobras achieved their arm of batting at beyond a strike-rate of 100 in splendid fashion on Wednesday when they chased down 174. The middle-order rallied with SA Engelbrecht, Rory Kleinveldt, Ontong and Lesiba Ngoepe all clearing the boundary ropes to power the Cape Cobras to 176 for six with one over to spare.

“We know other teams have targeted Richard Levi. It was very satisfying that we reached the target on Wednesday after he had been dismissed cheaply. But hopefully Richard will get us off to a flyer on Sunday,” he added.

The left arm swing bowler Wayne Parnell’s hand injury is still a concern and his two injured fingers are feeling tender. “It takes time to heal, but we trust that it will clear up over the next two days,” Ontong added.

Winning key moments vital against unbeaten Dolphins, says Cape Cobras-coach

CAPE TOWN. – “We are playing against an unbeaten team. Yet, we are not focusing too much on them, but on executing our game-plan and winning the key moments,” said Paul Adams, the Cape Cobras coach.

The Cobras and the Sunfoil Dolphins will clash on Sunday in a crucial Ram Slam T20 Challenge match. The Cobras are third on the log, and the Dolphins are at the summit.

The Dolphins will be without Kevin Pietersen and Kyle Abbott, who has departed to India to replace the injured Cape Cobras and South African fast bowler Vernon Philander.

Ryan McLaren will return to the Dolphins-team, as will Vaughn van Jaarsveld.

The Cobras will welcome back Kieron Pollard, arguably one of the very finest T20-players in the world, whose ability to take wickets or accelerate with the bat has made him an international icon.

Siya Simetu is replaced by Pollard and misses out.

The Cobras are aware of the dry pitches up North and the importance of using their spinning resources well to neutralize the hard-hitting Van Jaarsveld, Cameron Delport, David Miller and Morné van Wyk.

Wayne Parnell is on the comeback-trail after a slight injury scare.

The South African bowler has produced some of his best spell as SuperSport Park in Centurion. It is at this fortress of The Unlimited Titans and South Africa that he took four for 25 against Australia in a One Day International match and removed Michael Hussey, Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke.

If the force is with him and he is in a similar mood, the Dolphins better watch out.

“We have gained confidence from the win against the VKB Knights on Wednesday. We must make sure we continue our upward curve,” said Adams.

The Cobras Cobras squad:  Justin Ontong (capt), Keegan Petersen, Kieron Pollard, Andrew Puttick, Richard Levi, Omphile Ramela, SA Engelbrecht, Rory Kleinveldt, Lesiba Ngoepe, Dane Paterson, GF Linde, Wayne Parnell, Mthokozisi Shezi.


CAPE TOWN. – “The Cape Cobras need to take greater responsibility as a batting unit, and address the strike-rate,”  were the parting words of the skipper Justin Ontong, before he took a flight from Johannesburg to Kimberley for the Ram Slam T20 Challenge showdown against the VKB Knights.

The visitors and the Knights will clash at the Diamond Oval in Kimberley on Wednesday. The starting time is 18:00.

The Cobras have been below-par as a batting unit in their previous three Ram Slam T20 Challenge matches.

A feeling exists amongst their opponents that once their two king-pins with the blade, Richard Levi and Ontong, are removed, there is not a substantial amount of fire-power left in the lower order to hurt their opponents.

That is not true of course, as Wayne Parnell and Rory Kleinveldt have the range of shots and the pedigree to produce half-centuries.

Omphile Ramela was the batsman of the match in the Ram Slam T20 Challenge final last season with a splendid 34-ball 54. The stylish left-hander has not yet hit his straps in this format this season.

Andrew Puttick has had his moments, but is consistent without having produced substantial innings at a strike-rate of 120 or more.

“As a batting unit, we need to take greater responsibility. There are also moments in which we can improve our bowling, while we need even higher standards in the field, as it wins you matches,” said Ontong.

“I am happy with our seam bowlers, but we can be shrewder in certain situations.”

“We need better strike rates with the bat. Apart from Richard there are other senior players who can step up. We should not be making any more excuses.

“The conditions are very dry, and there have been heat waves in Gauteng, which aids the spin bowlers. We must ensure that we don’t allow too many dot balls in the middle period,” Ontong said.

Asked if the Cape Cobras will insert Parnell in the top-order, Ontong said Parnell might be utilized from the 15th over onwards when the ball is softer and explosive power is required to accelerate the innings at the business-end.

He did acknowledge that Parnell could ignite the top-order when given a chance there.

“I was happy to have contributed with the ball against The Unlimited Titans, but I have been selected as batsman, and I must make a bigger impact with the bat,” Ontong admitted.

The Cape Cobras have scored one win in three Ram Slam T20 matches, but a win against the VKB Knights and a victory against the Sunfoil Dolphins will propel the Cape champions back up the log to the summit.

The greatest challenge for the Cobras is for their middle-order to play with greater controlled aggression at a strike-rate of 120 or more in order to secure momentum at the back-end of the innings.

The Cobras squad is: Justin Ontong (capt), Siya Simetu, Wayne Parnell, Lesiba Ngoepe, Richard Levi, Andrew Puttick, Omphile Ramela,  SA Engelbrecht, Keegan Petersen, Rory Kleinveldt, GF Linde, Dane Paterson, Mthokozisi Shezi.

CAPE TOWN. – Injuries, ill-discipline and inexperience have contributed to Sunday’s loss by the defending Ram Slam T20 Challenge champions, the Cape Cobras.

The Cape champions edged the Warriors at Boland Park in Paarl on Friday thanks to sensational death bowling by Dane Paterson and Wayne Parnell.

They lost by 26 runs against The Unlimited Titans in a domestic T20-match at SuperSport Park on Sunday.

Parnell, an international left-arm swing bowler who has shown glimpses of the form which made him a match-winner for the Proteas, hurt his finger on Friday evening.

He did not pass a fitness test for the Ram Slam T20 Challenge match against The Unlimited Titans.

Paul Adams, the Cape Cobras coach, said the bowling attack possibly conceded 20 runs too many on Sunday, partially because of ill-discipline.

The pitch assisted the spinners as it offered turn to the slower men, and that contributed to the slightly sedate finish of the Cape Cobras, who made 147 for six.

The two teams were virtually in the same position after 11 overs, but the Titans flourished thanks to the belligerent Farhaan Behardien, who hammered 61 off 31 balls.

The chase of the Cobras, who had to purse the target in conditions that benefited the spinners later on in the game, petered out a tad and they finished on 147 for six.

Adams acknowledged that the Cape champions are missing the experience of hard-hitting and well-travelled campaigners like Dane Vilas and Kieron Pollard.

Vilas is the South African wicketkeeper currently on duty in India.

Pollard is representing the West Indies against Sri Lanka in a T20-series and will only be available for the Ram Slam match against the Sunfoil Dolphins on Sunday at SuperSport Park in Centurion.

The current players who are operating in the middle-order like SA Engelbrecht and Lesiba Ngoepe are not extremely experienced at Ram Slam T20 Challenge-level and are still developing their trade in the shortened format.

The Cape Cobras have suffered misfortune due to injuries to Rory Kleinveldt (shoulder), Robin Peterson (finger), Tshepo Moreki (foot), Andrew Puttick (mouth infection) and Parnell (finger).

Adams said they are hopeful Parnell will recover in time for the Ram Slam T20 Challenge clash against the VKB Knights in Kimberley on Wednesday.