Cook, Van der Dussen seal the deal

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - ASHFAK MAHOMED

THE HIGHVELD LIONS wasted lit­tle time in fin­ish­ing off the Cape Co­bras at the Wan­der­ers yes­ter­day, need­ing just 40 min­utes to knock off the re­main­ing 43 runs to win by 10 wick­ets in the open­ing round of the Sun­foil Se­ries.

Stephen Cook missed out on a 39th first-class hun­dred, end­ing on an un­beaten 97 off just 91 balls (17x4), while open­ing part­ner Rassie van der Dussen fin­ished on 50 not out (74 balls, 8x4) early on day three. The Lions picked up 15.08 points, with the Co­bras get­ting just four.

The Lions chased down the 160-run tar­get in just 26.5 overs, in stark con­trast to the three pre­vi­ous in­nings in the match, where the bowlers were dom­i­nant. The Co­bras could only muster 102 and 211 re­spec­tively, while the hosts were dis­missed for 154.

So the Cape side may have thought they had a chance in the fourth in­nings, es­pe­cially with Proteas Test bowlers Ver­non Phi­lan­der and Dane Piedt in at­tack.

But it was Dane Pater­son who nearly got the break­through when Cook, on six, edged to Sti­aan van Zyl at slip on Thurs­day. But Cook sur­vived and knuck­led down with Van der Dussen as they took the game away from the Co­bras. They com­piled 117 runs in 18 overs to ef­fec­tively seal the deal.

For Co­bras coach Paul Adams, it is an­other frus­trat­ing out­come as he had spo­ken about how his top bats­men needed to show a fight­ing spirit and place a premium on their wick­ets.

But the high­est score from a top-four bats­man across both in­nings came from new No 3 Zubayr Hamza, He hit 29 in the first knock, with cap­tain Om­phile Ramela, An­drew Puttick and Van Zyl fail­ing.

The only Co­bras bats­man who stood out was 21-year-old Ja­son Smith, who struck 95 off 117 balls (16x4) in the sec­ond in­nings – to go with his 4/24 with the ball dur­ing the Lions’ first in­nings – while Piedt added a 41 to his first-in­nings 22.

The Proteas will be de­lighted that Cook and Temba Bavuma (76* in the first in­nings) got among the runs ahead of next month’s three-Test se­ries against Aus­tralia, while Har­dus Viljoen made a bid for Test se­lec­tion with a sec­ond-in­nings haul of 6/75.

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