Do the chilled Cobras have what it takes to take on a red-hot Lions outfit in the Momentum One-Day Cup final at Newlands on Sunday?
Rested or rolling?
Depending who you talk to, they both claim merits. But Cobras will not have played for almost two weeks, and perhaps more importantly, will not have won since 13 Feb. They were on a roll then, having won four on the trot. But they lost against the Knights after having secured their final spot, and you have to wonder if their heart was in that last match, resting key players such as captain Justin Ontong and Dane Paterson. The Lions, on the other hand, have had to fight through an eliminator and they come to Newlands with fire in their belly and the blood of the Warriors still fresh in their throats.
Is the story in history?
This is the Cobras third consecutive final at Newlands. But here’s the rub. They haven’t actually won it since 2011. In 2012, a deluge at the Wanderers prevented the final from taking place. In Dec 2013 the trophy was shared by the Cobras and Titans without a ball being bowled; in 2014-15, the Titans, thanks to Albie Morkel and Dean Elgar, blasted the Cobras off the park, even after a Richard Levi ton. And when it comes to bragging rights in this competition, The Lions hammered the Cobras in the first match, in Johannesburg, and were in turn stamped by the Cobras in the return fixture – but that was at Paarl.
The swing’s the thing
Wayne Parnell received high praise from CSA high performance manager Vincent Barnes for his performance for South Africa A against England A, nipping out 3-26 in four overs at Paarl. Barnes had adjusted Parnell’s action, noting that his wrist position for the in-swinger to the right-hander was not correct. He works well with Beuran Hendricks, leading the MODC averages, having taken 11 wickets at an average of 17 and at an economy rate of 4.59 this season, and he in turn works well with Dane Paterson, the enforcer. That’s a powerful line-up. But it is worth remembering they didn’t punch any holes in the Knights line-up. Perhaps they have learned from that.
Flash vs flair
The contest between the Lions’ Alviro Petersen and the Cobras’ Richard Levi – if he plays – is one to savour. Petersen is the leading scorer, having slammed five hundreds in the first seven matches. He hasn’t had a fifty since Feb 5 but on one of those subsequent innings, the game was won as he was getting into his stride. He will fancy another one. Big-hitting Levi hasn’t played a MODC since Oct last year, and coach Paul Adams will have to decide is worth dropping the reliable Andrew Puttick to accommodate him. Surely, he won’t drop Parnell instead? Not with that Lions batting line-up? Petersen knows how to control the game; when to stabilise and when to cut loose. Levi? Well, Levi does what Levi does as his List A strike rate of 102 testifies.
The Lions have a formidable batting line-up, even without Temba Bavuma, who is out with a back injury; while the Cobras have a potent strike force. They will need to make early inroads into the Lions batting otherwise they could well be left short, running or chasing. The Lions bowling is perhaps a little on the light side, even if Aaron Phangiso can put aside the distraction of being labelled (after 16 ODIs and 136 List A matches) a ‘chucker’. This match should be close, but I think the Lions will edge it.