Captain Stephen Cook’s 77 steered the Highveld Lions to an easy victory in the Momentum One-Day Cup final, beating an under-performing Cape Cobras by eight wickets at Newlands on Sunday.
He and Alviro Petersen, who hammered an elegant 55, with eight fours, put on 96 to take the Lions to the brink when Petersen perished, attempting to pull Wayne Parnell over the mid-wicket fence just seven runs short of the target. Cook, who started out with a partnership of 67 with Rassie van der Dussen (29) in 15 overs, sailed on to end unbeaten, with nine fours from the 94 balls he faced.
It was the Lions’ first outright win since 2004, although they shared a washed-out final in 2013.
The Lions were rarely troubled by the much-vaunted Cobras attack and they could afford to pace themselves after the Cobras had collapsed to 169 all out in 42 overs, offering them a target at just under four runs an over. They reached their goal with 17 overs to spare.
For the Cobras, the day’s play was best summed up when ‘keeper Dane Vilas dropped an absolute sitter off the edge of Cook’s bat when he was on 51 and the overall score on 98. Cook had tucked his bat under his arm and started walking when he saw the ball rolling harmlessly on the ground. It was more heartache for Parnell, who had put his heart and soul into generating pace from a fairly dull wicket, earlier beating Van der Dussen for pace.
Earlier, only Justin Ontong provided any resistance, scoring 60 off 77 balls with just two fours. The Cobras could never get out of second gear. Having been sent in to bat, they edged to 16 off five overs. The breakthrough came when Temba Bavuma’s accurate throw saw off a rather pedestrian Richard Levi for 18. Three overs later, the Cobras were three down after Andrew Puttick (21) edged behind off Dwaine Pretorius and Omphile Ramela (2) tried to cut a delivery from Pumelela Matshikwe and dragged it on.
Dane Vilas took the attack to the Lions, and to Matshikwe in particular, driving him back over his head and pulling him at will. But that was his undoing, going for an extravagant pull off Aaron Phangiso to be caught behind for 23 off 22 balls (4×4).
Aviwe Mgijima did not last long after the Lions introduced Eddie Leie to supplement Phangiso as a twin spin attack, being bowled with Leie’s 10th delivery, playing on after scoring five.
The hundred came up immediately afterwards, off 21 overs, but it was the wickets-lost column that was the most telling. That column was further damaged when Dominic Hendricks took a brilliant catch at backward point to dismiss Parnell for seven. They were six down for 119 at the halfway stage.
Even when Leie hobbled off halfway though his sixth over, when Alviro Petersen took over, the Cobras could not capitalise as spin tightened the noose. Just 38 runs were scored in 11 overs.
The 150 came up after 34 overs, in which just 11 boundaries had been scored. But disaster followed in three overs when Matshikwe dismissed Dane Piedt, caught behind for 22, and in his following over, removed Ontong, chipping tamely to mid-off. His 60 had been the anchor, but it was torn up far too early to help the Cobras.