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VKB Knights coach Alan Kruger insists they are not yet pressing panic buttons in their pursuit of the Momentum One-Day Cup semi-finals despite a woeful start to the 2019/20 campaign.

The Central Franchise have failed to win any of their first four games – they lost three and have one washout – ahead of their round five encounter and the halfway point of the first phase of the competition against the World Sports Betting Cape Cobras in Kimberley on Saturday.

It has not been good at all for the Knights, who have been heavily let down by their batsmen, with Kruger conceding they need to up their game.

“The Knights do have a history of being slow starters,” he stated. “We seem to be doing that far too often and then trying to come from the back when it is a little bit too late. So hopefully we can start now.

“It certainly isn’t panic stations as yet. We’ve only played four matches so far and a lot can happen still considering the number of points that are still on offer.

“But we just need to knuckle down, have more self-belief and play the way we know we can. I think if we can do that, the tables will turn for us.”

There was at least a positive, if they want to look at it that way, when they collected their first points of the campaign, albeit via a rain-abandoned game against the Warriors in midweek.

Their underlying problem, however, is plain for all to see – the batting, which has yielded scores of 115, 164 and 134 thus far.

“I know it’s been difficult because you can’t really compete if you only make a score of 150,” Kruger added. “That is just not good enough. The batsmen know that, and they have been doing some soul searching amongst themselves.

“I also feel that each individual has to look within, they have to be open with each other and think collectively rather than individually. We are one team at the end of the day and we have got into the situation as a team.

“The only way we’re going to get out of it is as a team. So that’s been the message and hopefully we can do the business in the next game.”

Kruger and his team can take solace in the fact that they are up against a Cobras side showing plenty of inconsistency.

The Cape side failed to chase 184 against the log-leading Hollywoodbets Dolphins in midweek and remain second bottom with eight points from six games, two more than the Knights.

Their captain, Zubayr Hamza, admits they have to make drastic improvements in the games ahead. “Our batting unit simply did not come to the party in the last game,” he said. “We have to go back to the drawing board to try and rectify some of the mistakes we are making.

“We’re had extensive chats about game plans and execution, but we’re still not getting it right.”

World Sports Betting Cape Cobras Squad: Zubayr Hamza (c), Akhona Mnyaka, Aviwe Mgijima, Dane Paterson, Dane Piedt, George Linde, Janneman Malan, Jason Smith, Jonathan Bird, Kyle Verreynne, Mihlali Mpongwana, Pieter Malan, Rory Kleinveldt, Thando Ntini

HEAD TO HEAD – VKB Knights v World Sports Betting Cape Cobras

Matches Played           28

Knights Win                 11

Cobras Win                  16

No Result                      01

MATCH STATS (MOMENTUM ONE-DAY CUP) VKB KNIGHTS WORLD SPORTS BETTING CAPE COBRAS
Highest Score 320/4 (Bloemfontein 2017/18) 296/6 (Bloemfontein 2011/12)
Lowest Score 94 (Paarl 2012/13) 39 (Paarl 2008/09)
Highest Individual Score 132 TB de Bruyn (Bloemfontein 2016/17) 114* S van Zyl (Kimberley 2009/10)
Best bowling in an innings 4-24 MS Tshabalala (Cape Town 2005/06) 5-22 RK Kleinveldt (Cape Town 2018/19)

World Sports Betting Cape Cobras coach Ashwell Prince believes his team is currently just short of where they need to be and has challenged them to improve when they face the Hollywoodbets Dolphins in their latest Momentum One-Day Cup outing in Cape Town on Wednesday.

The hosts have not been too bad so far this season but have still ended up losing three of their five matches to sit second-bottom on the standings at the halfway point of the regular season.

In fact, they scored 300-plus in their last game and still ended up losing to the Imperial Lions, a loss that disappointed Prince.

“The captain (Zubayr Hamza) batted really well in the last game and was very unfortunate to be on the losing side after such and unbelievable innings (of 156),” he said. “Posting 300 on the Highveld these days is not quite enough.

“We probably fell about 20 or 30 runs short, so fair play to the Lions for chasing that down.”

The Cape side have had two scores in the 270s and just one really poor showing when they made 207 in a loss to the Titans.

They are up against a Dolphins side whom they beat last time out when a score of 320 took them to victory in Pietermaritzburg.

“Now we’re looking forward to tomorrow,” Prince added. “We beat the Dolphins a couple of weeks ago, but they’re a solid outfit.

“They’ve got some solid batsmen and have been playing well. They also have good balance in their bowling attack with quite a bit of spin in there.

“They’re a strong side but all the teams are strong to be honest. There’s no easy games and the Dolphins will be tough.”

With the season now heading into the second half for the Cobras, every match is important. “We’re going to have to dig deep in these games,” Prince concluded. “We can’t expect any to be easy. There’s no easy in professional sport.

“We’re going to have to raise our game because at the moment we’re falling just short…five or ten percent. We have to bring a little bit more tomorrow.”

The Dolphins, meanwhile, find themselves top of the table after winning three out of four games.

Coach Imraan Khan admits that things have gone well, but he feels they need to try and stay focussed on the current rather than get ahead of themselves.

“It’s been a good start to the campaign, the boys have played really good cricket,” Khan stated. “The game in Maritzburg against the Cobras was a bit of a frustrating one for us as a team.

“We still feel the rain came at a time when we were controlling the game, but it was a good effort to get as close as we did.

“Ahead of this next one the focus remains on one game at a time, the next one being this return game against the Cobras. There’s still a long way to go and a lot of hard work ahead in the competition.”

World Sports Betting Cape Cobras legend Rory Kleinveldt will be playing his final match at his beloved home ground Newlands and to celebrate and thank the fans for the support over the years, he’s buying a round of beer for the Newlands Faithful.

The Cobras squad is: Aviwe Mgijima, Kyle Verreynne, Jason Smith, Pieter Malan, Zubayr Hamza (capt), Janneman Malan, Mihlali Mpongwana, Thando Ntini, Rory Kleinveldt, George Linde, Dane Paterson, Nandre Burger, Jonathan Bird, Akhona Mnyaka.

The Dolphins squad is: Sarel Erwee, Grant Roelofsen, Khaya Zondo, Sibz Makhanya, Senuran Muthusamy, Marques Ackerman, Vaughn van Jaarsveld, Keshav Maharaj (capt), Prenelan Subrayen, Rob Frylink, Daryn Dupavillon, Okuhle Cele, Kerwin Mungroo, Keith Dudgeon.

HEAD TO HEAD – World Sports Betting Cape Cobras v Hollywoodbets Dolphins

Matches Played            32

Cobras Win                   12

Dolphins Win                16

Tie                                   01 

No Result                       03

MATCH STATS (MOMENTUM ONE-DAY CUP) WORLD SPORTS BETTING CAPE COBRAS HOLLYWOODBETS DOLPHINS
Highest Score 320/6 (Pietermaritzburg 2019/20) 315/7 (Durban 2017/18)
Lowest Score 111 (Cape Town 2007/08) 171 (Durban 2015/16)
Highest Individual Score 129 MZ Hamza (Pietermaritzburg 2019/20) 116* SJ Erwee (Pietermaritzburg 2019/20)
Best bowling in an innings 5-46 AC Dawson (Cape Town 2006/07) 5-42 CJ Alexander (Durban 2013/14)

A key innings of 43 by Nono Pongolo helped the Imperial Lions snatch victory from what looked to be the jaws of defeat as they sealed a thrilling one-wicket win over the World Sports Betting Cape Cobras in Potchefstroom on Sunday.

The seamer was left to bat in what appeared to be a lost cause – the hosts having slumped to 225 for six chasing 305 – and with only the other bowlers to come.

However, he helped them somehow managed to scrape together the other 80 with help from his fellow tail-enders as they edged to victory with two balls to spare.

It capped an excellent chase in which most of the runs had earlier come through all-rounder Delano Potgieter (66 off 37 balls, 5 fours, 4 sixes) and wicketkeeper Nicky van den Bergh (59 off 76 balls, 4 fours, 1 six), although their departures appeared to signal the end even though there were plenty of deliveries still to go.

But Pongolo had other ideas, helping seal a famous win, one that lifted the Lions up to second on the table.

Earlier, Zubayr Hamza continued his purple patch of form for the Cobras with a second career-best century in three games as they amassed 304 for eight after losing the toss and being asked to bat first at Senwes Park.

The Standard Bank Proteas Test batsman smashed 156 in 124 balls (13 fours, 4 sixes), following on his maiden ton two games earlier.

That also meant he had now recorded returns of 58, 129, 93 and now his lifetime best List A score in successive innings.

Jonathan Bird, fresh from his recent exploits for South Africa at the Under-19 World Cup, hit 47 on his franchise debut, with Pieter Malan striking 32.

Veteran spinner Aaron Phangiso was the pick of the bowlers with four for 46.

Despite losing wickets regularly, the Lions scored fairly rapidly thanks to Ryan Rickelton (32), Reeza Hendricks (24), Wihan Lubbe (28) and their two top scorers.

But they were six down by the 37th over, thanks mainly to Thando Ntini’s four for 62 that looked to have all but ended their hopes of victory.

Pongolo, though, had other ideas, and supported by Malusi Siboto (16) and Phangiso (14 not out), the trio helped their side edge over the line.

A seventh career century by Dean Elgar helped the Momentum Multiply Titans make it two wins from their last two matches after they claimed a thumping 95-run Momentum One-Day Cup bonus-point win over the World Sports Betting Cape Cobras in Cape Town on Wednesday.

The defending champions, who began the defence of their title with successive losses, were clinical at Newlands on their way to the top of the table.

Batting around Standard Bank Proteas Test ace Elgar, they amassed a strong 302 for four after losing the toss and being put into bat first.

The left-handed opener, in at No. 4, carved a fine 108 not out off 114 balls (6 fours, 1 six), allowing for captain Heinrich Klaasen (54 off 46 balls, 4 fours, 1 six) and Farhaan Behardien (62 off 35 balls, 5 fours, 1 six) to explode around him.

The Cobras’ chase never got going and, had it not been for another Proteas batsman Zubayr Hamza (93 off 95 balls, 9 fours, 1 six) getting nearly half their runs, they would have been completely embarrassed.

Imraan Manack was the pick of the bowlers for the visitors, bagging a career-best four for 48.

The Cobras fell to a heavy loss and one that left them fourth on the table after four games.

The Titans, meanwhile, will be feeling hugely satisfied after another compelling display in the Cape. Having beaten the Warriors in Port Elizabeth on Sunday, they came into the game high on confidence.

But they made a slightly difficult start, slipping to 90 for three after 22 overs with only Tony de Zorzi (44) amongst the runs at that stage.

But from there it was one-way traffic with Elgar and Klaasen plundering 111 for the fourth wicket, followed by the former and Behardien punishing the bowling with an unbroken 101 stand for wicket number five – runs that came in 11 overs.

The Cobras lost Janneman Malan (0) second ball of the chase and from there their innings went south.

Pieter Malan (15) and Kyle Verreynne (13) failed to make an impact, as to did Jason Smith (16), George Linde (6) and Aviwe Mgijima (6) as they slumped to 148 for six.

Hamza, fresh off his maiden career ton over the weekend, did his best to repel the Titans, but he too soon departed as right-arm spinner Manack and Tshepo Moreki (3/31) did most of the damage.

In the end the home side were all out for 207 in 43.2 overs.

A maiden List A century by Zubayr Hamza laid the foundation for the World Sports Betting Cape Cobras to edge the Hollywoodbets Dolphins by five runs on the DLS Method in their round three Momentum One-Day encounter in Pietermaritzburg on Sunday.

The Standard Bank Proteas batsman was in supreme form, striking 129 off 133 balls (8 fours, 1 six) to help his side amass 320 for six.

After a brief rain delay during the chase – and the target being revised to 286 in 43 overs – Jason Smith bagged three for 36 to restrict the hosts to 280 for nine.

It ended a closely-fought affair and inflicted a first loss of the 2019/20 term on the in-form KwaZulu-Natal outfit.

The Cobras were full value for their win, though, especially after the way they batted.

Another Protea, Pieter Malan offered them a strong start with his innings of 71 (81 balls, 8 fours) after they won the toss and batted. He put on 111 with Hamza for the second wicket, before Smith (29) and the top-scorer combined for 62 during their third-wicket partnership.

George Linde (49) also joined the fun when he helped Hamza add 78 for the fourth wicket – the Cape side eventually setting 321.

The Dolphins had a good go at the target thanks once again to the in-form Grant Roelofsen. The young wicket-keeper, who hit his maiden ton on Friday, made 69 off 80 balls (5 fours, 2 sixes), sharing in stands of 74 with Sarel Erwee (30) for the first wicket and then 68 alongside Vaughn van Jaarsveld (41) for the next wicket.

But quick wickets by Smith pegged back the Dolphins.

Khaya Zondo (44) and Robbie Frylinck (32) did their best to keep pace, but scoreboard pressure eventually caught up with them as the Dolphins fell agonisingly short.

World Sports Betting Cape Cobras Assistant Coach Faiek Davids expressed his disappointment at the performance of the team after a career-best 157 by Ryan Rickelton enabled the Imperial Lions to earn a comfortable 49-run victory in Paarl on Friday, but is positive that the quick turnaround between games will help the team bounce back on Sunday when they take on the Hollywoodbets Dolphins in Pietermaritzburg.

Zubayr Hamza (58 off 57 balls, 7 fours) and George Linde (58 off 60 balls, 2 fours, 1 six) did their best to keep with the pace of the Lions score of 320, while Jason Smith (41) and Aviwe Mgijima (33) also tried, but the scoreboard pressure was too big as the Cobras slipped to their first loss of the term.

“I thought the Lions batted very well to post a total of 320. We weren’t on top of our game in the fielding and the way we went into bat, we didn’t start well and were behind the eight ball and didn’t have any momentum for the whole innings,” said Davids.

 “We’ve got another match on Sunday, a quick turnaround against the Dolphins and our fielding and bowling must be better and we have an opportunity to change that around,” he added.

Coach Ashwell Prince has named the same 13-man squad for the trip to Pietermaritzburg.

The match starts at 09h30 and will not be televised.

World Sports Betting Cape Cobras squad: Dane Piedt, Aviwe Mgijima, Simon Khomari, Jason Smith, Pieter Malan, Zubayr Hamza, Hanno Kotze, Mihlali Mpongwana, Thando Ntini, Rory Kleinveldt, George Linde, Dane Paterson, Nandre Burger.

World Sports Betting Cape Cobras coach Ashwell Prince has named his squad to take on the Warriors in the opening match of the Momentum 1 Day Cup at the Recreation Ground in Oudtshoorn on Sunday.

There is a return to action for veteran all-rounder Rory Kleinveldt who retired from first-class cricket at the end of last season but continues to be available for white-ball cricket.

After some excellent performances in senior provincial cricket, wicket-keeper batsman Hanno Kotze from Boland and Western Province all-rounder Mihlali Mpongwana, have been called up to the Cobras squad alongside Thando Ntini, who has featured for the Cobras throughout the 4 Day Series and gets his chance to play white-ball cricket for the Cobras.

Batsman David Bedingham has signed a contract with English County side Durham and will therefore not be available for selection for the Momentum One Day Cup campaign.

The Cobras will also have to do without opening batsman Janneman Malan and wicket-keeper / batsman Kyle Verreynne, who both earned national call-ups for the One Day International series against England starting in Cape Town on Tuesday.

Ashwell Prince has received a boost to his squad however, with Test players Pieter Malan, Dane Paterson and Zubayr Hamza returning for the 1 Day Cup campaign.

World Sports Betting Cape Cobras Squad: Dane Piedt, Aviwe Mgijima, Simon Khomari, Jason Smith, Pieter Malan, Zubayr Hamza, Hanno Kotze, Mihlali Mpongwana, Thando Ntini, Rory Kleinveldt, George Linde, Dane Paterson, Nandre Burger.

World Sports Betting Cape Cobras Captain Dane Piedt expressed his delight at yet another Cobras player making their Test debut this season.

George Linde made his Test debut during the disappointing tour of India whilst Pieter Malan made his long-awaited Test debut in the second Test at his home ground Newlands against England. Dane Paterson became the latest representative from the Western Cape franchise, coached by Ashwell Prince, to make his Test debut when he lined up for the Standard Bank Proteas for the third Test against England in Port Elizabeth.

Piedt, speaking after their 4 Day Series match against the Momentum Multiply Titans ended in a disappointing draw for the home side, said, “It’s extremely good that we have 4 out of the 11 Proteas players coming from the Cobras, guys who really deserve their opportunities.”

“Vern has been there for over 60 Test matches and basically looks after himself in terms of selection, but guys like Zubayr, Pieter and Pato have really done the hard yards for us over the years. I’m really happy for Pato, he’s been on a journey, lost his contract at the Dolphins, came back to the Cobras, worked on a semi-pro contract and worked his way back up the ranks at the Cobras. He’s gone on to take over 200 franchise wickets from over 50 matches for the Cobras, I’m just really happy for how he has gone,” he added.

“A lot has been made of Pieter and his rise to opening the batting for the Proteas and he has done hard work to get there. It’s just down to performances at the end of the day and if they can consistently do it they will be around there for a long time, but from a personal point of view, I’m just extremely happy to have Cobras players representing the Country. We are a very proud franchise with a wonderful history of producing Proteas players over the years and long may that continue,” he concluded.

The World Sports Betting Cape Cobras take on the Warriors in the next 4 Day Series match starting on Monday. Round 8 will be the final round of fixtures before the start of the Momentum One Day Cup. The remaining two rounds of fixtures will take place after the conclusion of the Momentum One Day Cup at the end of March.

CRICKET SOUTH AFRICA (CSA) named six uncapped players in the Standard Bank Proteas squad for the first two Test matches against England to be played over the festive season.

The World Sports Betting Cape Cobras duo of fast bowler Dane Paterson and opening batsman Pieter Malan, the Imperial Lions trio of batsman Rassie van der Dussen, fast bowler Beuran Hendricks and all-rounder Dwaine Pretorius, and Warriors wicketkeeper/batsman Rudi Second have all been included in the Proteas squad which will assemble for a training camp later this week.

Second was selected for the previous Test series in India but had to withdraw through injury. Paterson, Van der Dussen, Hendricks and Pretorius have all represented the Proteas in white ball internationals.

The first Test match takes place at SuperSport Park, Centurion, from December 26 to 30 and the second at Newlands from January 3 to 7.

Lungi Ngidi of the Momentum Multiply Titans and Wiaan Mulder of the Imperial Lions could not be considered because of injury while Aiden Markram of the Momentum Multiply Titans is recovering well from injury.

“The high number of uncapped players coming into the squad is a reflection of our policy to acknowledge players who do well at franchise level and have put their hands up for selection,” commented CSA Independent Selector, Linda Zondi.

“Van der Dussen, who is third on the current four-day batting averages, and Pretorius, who has established himself as the leading all-rounder, are clear examples of this.

“Following the same trend Paterson has been the second leading wicket-taker in four-day cricket this season, including a 7-wicket haul in an innings, and we want to go into the Test series will a full arsenal of fast bowlers who have always provided one of our traditional strengths.

“Beuran Hendricks is also part of this strategy and adds variety to the attack as a left-arm swing bowler.

“Malan has been one of the most consistent runs scorers in franchise cricket for many seasons now and, as a specialist opening batsman, he provides cover for Markram, while Second provides cover in the wicketkeeping department and is a top order batsman in his own right.

“The selection of the A side to play England in a three-day tour match is confirmation of our policy to make this team our official South African 2nd XI and it has a good mix of experienced and young players with Pite van Biljon, Kyle Verreynne, Glenton Stuurman and Nandre Burger all being chosen at this level for the first time.

“Van Biljon and Verreynne are both in the top six on the four-day batting averages while we have gone for a young fast bowling attack as we look to develop our depth in this area,” concluded Mr. Zondi.

Standard Bank Proteas Test squad: Faf du Plessis (Momentum Multiply Titans, capt), Temba Bavuma (Imperial Lions), Quinton de Kock (Momentum Multiply Titans), Dean Elgar (Momentum Multiply Titans), Beuran Hendricks (Imperial Lions), Keshav Maharaj (Hollywoodbets Dolphins), Pieter Malan (World Sports Betting Cape Cobras), Aiden Markram (Momentum Multiply Titans), Zubayr Hamza (World Sports Betting Cape Cobras), Anrich Nortje (Warriors), Dane Paterson (World Sports Betting Cape Cobras), Andile Phehlukwayo (Hollywoodbets Dolphins), Vernon Philander (World Sports Betting Cape Cobras), Dwaine Pretorius (Imperial Lions), Kagiso Rabada (Imperial Lions), Rudi Second (Warriors), Rassie van der Dussen (Imperial Lions)

Management

Head coach: Mark Boucher

Assistant coach: Enoch Nkwe

Team manager: Volvo Masubelele

Fielding coach: Justin Ontong

Strength and Conditioning coach: Tumi Masekela

Physiotherapist: Craig Govender

Performance analyst: Prasanna Agoram

Media Manager: Sipokazi Sokanyile

Security Manager: Zunaid Wadee

SA A squad (to play England at Willowmoore Park from December 20-22): Temba Bavuma (Imperial Lions), Nandre Burger (World Sports Betting Cape Cobras), Theunis de Bruyn (Momentum Multiply Titans), Reeza Hendricks (Imperial Lions), Pieter Malan (World Sports Betting Cape Cobras), Andile Phehlukwayo (Hollywoodbets Dolphins), Dane Piedt (World Sports Betting Cape Cobras), Lutho Sipamla (Warriors), Glenton Stuurman (Warriors), Pite van Biljon (VKB Knights), Kyle Verreynne (World Sports Betting Cape Cobras)

Head Coach: Ashwell Prince

Assistant Coaches: Malibongwe Maketa and Piet Botha

Three members of the Standard Bank Proteas Test squad from the recent series against India, return to the World Sports Betting Cape Cobras squad to take on the Warriors starting at Newlands on Monday.

The Cobras are relishing their first home appearance of the season and assistant coach Faiek Davids admits they are keen to make an immediate impression as they welcome back Captain Dane Piedt, George Linde and Zubayr Hamza.

The hosts have been on the road in their opening three matches, and, although they have not managed a win just yet, they have been extremely impressive.

“We’re very excited to be at home for the first time this season,” Davids enthused ahead of the Newlands encounter. “I see there’s some weather around though, but hopefully it will clear because we want to play.

“We know we’re just a win away from being in the top two or three. So, we’re not panicking and haven’t been at any stage.

“We’re well aware that we’re doing the right things, we were close in the first game, we put the (Momentum Multiply) Titans under pressure in the second one and then this last one as well, we’re playing good cricket.

“We’re not chasing anything because we know as long as we’re doing the right things we will be rewarded.”

The Cobras lost a low-scoring opening match to defending champions the Imperial Lions in Potchefstroom, but then came close to winning both their next two games against Titans and this past week at the Hollywoodbets Dolphins in Pietermaritzburg.

They were just four wickets shy in each of those draws, but Davids did not let those results get him down.

“I thought we played very good cricket, we did well to restrict them to 325 and then to respond the way we did with the bat in hand was fantastic,” he added, reviewing the past week.

“There was a magnificent career-best there from Matthew Kleinveldt, a superb century from Janneman (Malan) as well and then a brilliant second wicket partnership, awesome stuff to watch.

“Then there was that fine innings by Kyle Verreynne as he has already done so many times this season.

“I think we ticked most of the boxes there. It’s just the pitch did not deteriorate enough for us to get over the line in the end. But it was a fantastic effort and extremely satisfying.”

World Sports Betting Cape Cobras Squad: Dane Piedt (c), David Bedingham, Tladi Bokako, Zubayr Hamza, Matthew Kleinveldt, George Linde, Janneman Malan, Pieter Malan, Akhona Mnyaka, Thando Ntini, Dane Paterson, Jason Smith, Kyle Verreynne