Smashing Smith can’t ease Cobras’ troubles
DESPITE a sensational maiden franchise hundred by Jason Smith, the Cape Cobras’ batting form again deserted them on the final day of Sunfoil Series action against the Knights in Bloemfontein yesterday.
Smith, who celebrated his 22nd birthday on Tuesday, smashed an unbeaten 100, but didn’t stop the Knights from finishing off the visitors yesterday. In- form paceman Marchant de Lange took six wickets to wrap up a convincing 175- run victory at the Mangaung Oval.
The Cape side had hope of pulling off what would’ve been a remarkable victory at the start of day four, with Zubayr Hamza on 52 and Stiaan van Zyl on five as the Cobras resumed on 127/2 off 25 overs, still 317 in arrears.
But for coach Paul Adams and his team to get close, they needed their overnight batsmen to kick on and bat for most of the first session. However, Van Zyl was first to fall in the second over when De Lange got going, with Duanne Olivier taking the catch.
Smith joined Hamza and it seemed as if the rookie pair were going along nicely as they put on 28 runs. But disaster struck as the latter – having moved on to 68 off 94 balls (12x4) – was dismissed by Shadley van Schalkwyk, with wicketkeeper Rudi Second taking the catch.
The Cobras’ last senior figure, Dane Vilas, walked out at 161/4, still a long way from the 444 required for victory. But he didn’t last long as De Lange landed a double blow, getting rid of the Cobras gloveman for one and Aviwe Mgijima for two within four balls.
Dane Piedt hung around for over an hour, though, and that allowed Smith to take on the bowling.
And the former SA Under19 all- rounder didn’t disappoint, hitting Olivier for three fours in an over to go to his 50 off 53 balls, while he also dispatched veteran leftarmer Robin Peterson for a six and three further boundaries.
Their seventh-wicket stand yielded 82 in just over 16 overs, but Piedt’s 71- minute vigil ended on 18 by Mbulelo Budaza, with Second taking his third catch of the innings.
All that was left for the Cobras was to see whether Smith could reach his three figures, as he was on 80 not out with just the bowlers to come.
He was nearly stranded as De Lange cleaned up Beuran Hendricks (one) and Tshepo Moreki for a duck, but took matters into his own hands as he slammed De Lange for four boundaries in the 59th over to bring up his hundred off just 88 balls (17x4, 1x6).
Sure enough, Budaza ended proceedings in the next over by having Dane Paterson caught for one, while De Lange finished with 6/61 in 18 overs as the Knights won their second consecutive game. They claimed 18.84 points, with the Cobras getting 6.82.
While the batting was an improvement on last week’s performance against the Highveld Lions, the Cobras top-order have to score more if they hope to be competitive.
Captain Omphile Ramela has yet to get going in his new role as an opener, while Van Zyl made 83 in the first innings in Bloemfontein.
They will have a week to work on their game before hosting the Warriors at Newlands next Thursday, where they will be without Vilas, who is part of the Proteas squad that leaves tomorrow for the Test tour of Australia.