On­tong puts Co­bras on top

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT - MICHAEL DO­MAN

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.

GALLO IM­AGES

ON TAR­GET: Justin On­tong on his way to a cen­tury and help­ing the Co­bras into a com­mand­ing po­si­tion against the Dol­phins in Paarl yes­ter­day.

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