Ontong puts Cobras on top
JUSTIN ONTONG played an innings of finesse and power to record his 12th SuperSport Series century at Paarl yesterday and put the Cape Cobras in a good position on 316/3 against the Dolphins at the end of the second day’s play.
Dolphins skipper Imraan Khan put the Cobras in to bat, and although there was some slow batting up front, with the run-rate down around two to the over for long periods, Ontong and JP Duminy accelerated superbly in the second half of the day.
Their unbroken fourthwicket stand was worth 157 runs in 168 minutes at stumps, and beat the previous Cobras record for that wicket against the KZN side – 85 by the same batsmen at Paarl two years ago
Ontong ended unbeaten on 113, and will resume today with Duminy, on 71.
Right-hander Ontong, who was slated to miss the game, came in at No 4 after Stiaan van Zyl withdrew with a neck injury.
There had been decent enough scoring by the top three, with Andrew Puttick (46 in two hours, eight fours), and Owais Shah (20 in 85 minutes, two fours) having fallen. Paarlborn Ontong upped the tempo from the start, though, driving sweetly all around the ground.
When Gray went for a slow 57 in 280 minutes (199 balls, three fours) just before tea, the Ontong-Duminy duo got going, maintaining a rate of more than four to the over in the final session to bring the overall scoring pace up to above three.
The first day on Thursday was lost due to a wet outfield after overnight rain, and it remains to be seen if the Cobras can build a big enough total and then put the Dolphins under pressure in the two days remaining.
Ontong collected five fours in his first 50 runs, off 91 balls. His second 50 runs came off 73 balls, and he went to his century by flicking seamer Quinton Friend fine for his 13th four.
By the end of the day the Cobras had collected 4.32 bat- ting points, with the Dolphins on a single bowling point.
The Dolphins had to make do without this season’s leading SuperSport wicket-taker, Imran Tahir, who could not start the game due to a back spasm.
While Tahir was absent, it was another spinner, slow leftarmer Keshav Maharaj who got the only wicket to fall on the day. His analysis of 3/118 may make it seem that he was caned in his 29 overs, but he did always seem to be in with a chance of taking wickets.
There were a few false shots from the Cobras fourth-wicket pair. For instance Duminy was beaten by Friend in the first over with the second new ball.
Ontong, after in one over hooking a four fine and straight-driving another off the same bowler, hooked again and was relieved to see the ball fall safely between keeper and fineleg. At that point the Cobras top-scorer was in the 70s.
Duminy reached his halfcentury off 73 balls, while his 71 not out used up 102 balls. He hit six fours and a six.
ON TARGET: Justin Ontong on his way to a century and helping the Cobras into a commanding position against the Dolphins in Paarl yesterday.