With an immaculate display of controlled, measured batting by Stephen Cook and Alviro Petersen, the Highveld Lions beat the Cape Cobras by eight wickets in their opening Momentum One-Day Cup match at the Wanderers on Saturday night.
Facing a target of 270, they never under pressure, hitting just 27 fours and a six; a total of 114 runs as they cruised in with 34 balls to spare.
Cook and Petersen put on 213 in 35 overs after Rassie van der Dussen was dismissed with 13 on the board, taking the score to 226 after 38 overs, when Petersen was bowled on 100 by the medium pace of Tshepo Moreki, driving down the wrong line.
Cook went on to 127, with 10 fours and a six, accompanied over the line by Neil McKenzie with 24 off 21 (4×4).
The most impressive aspect of the match was how they timed their challenge. Cook came to his hundred with a run of 4, 2, 4, 6 off Robin Peterson’s left-arm spin, but until that point he had scored 86 off 104 balls with just five fours. Eighty-four of those runs were down to the 22-yard sprint.
Petersen, fresh from a great season with Lancashire, was also up for the fight; but he was more leisurely on his own batting, whacking 12 fours off 100 balls.
When he was dismissed, at 226 after 38 overs, the job was as good as done.
Earlier Stiaan van Zyl and Omphile Ramela had stopped the rot as the Cobras slipped to 29-2, with Richard Levi (12) and Andrew Puttick (14) back in the pavilion, nine overs and 27 runs after the Lions won the toss and sent them in to bat.
While Levi was well taken at mid-off by Dwaine Pretorius, low down off a solid stroke, Puttick was one of those terribly unfortunate victims, run out as a non-striker after a sharp drive by Van Zyl brushed the hand of bowler Lonwabo Tsotsobe on the way to the stumps
But Van Zyl, who is looking to this tournament to get himself back into the Proteas’ reckoning, and Ramela put on 86 for the third wicket; at which point Van Zyl tried to pull Dwaine Pretorius and sent the ball straight to Rassie van der Dussen at deep square leg, who took a fine low catch, diving forward.
Undaunted, Ramela pressed on with his captain, Justin Ontong, content to anchor his end. His fifty came up off 86 balls with four fours and a six; Ontong was going along at a run a ball.
As they upped the tempo in the last 10 overs, they were hit with a double whammy: first Ramela fell for 59, stumped by Thami Tsolekile, and then Ontong, the next over, for 49, caught behind off Pumelela Matshikwe. Suddenly, they were 193-5 with two new batsmen and seven overs to go.
But experience counts, and Dane Vilas (26 off 19, 2×4) and Vernon Philander (48 off 27, 5×4, 2×6) gave the Cobras a competitive total. Not nearly enough, as it turned out.