Cape Cobras vs bizhub Highveld Lions | Sunday 28 February | Newlands | 09:30
The Momentum One Day Cup reaches its climax this weekend as the table-topping Cape Cobras welcome the bizhub Highveld Lions to Newlands on Sunday.
Can the Cobras claim their fifth Momentum One Day Cup title in front of their own fans or will the Lions rain on the Cape side’s parade when the two teams meet in the shadow of Table Mountain?
To Win Match
Cobras 5/10 | Draw 35/1 | Lions 16/10
Paul Adams’ side were near unbeatable this season, securing a home play-off with two games of the regular season to spare. They’ve played 10, won seven and lost just three games this term on their way to finishing comfortably atop the Momentum One Day Cup standings. They’ve only lost at home once this season – that defeat coming way back in October against the Warriors.
Wayne Parnell has had another solid season for the Cape side. While he has struggled slightly in his new position at the top of the batting order, he’s impressed with ball in hand. He’s claimed 14 wickets in eight games this season at an average of 23.71. The consistent success he’s enjoyed at franchise level hasn’t necessarily translated into international success, though. Still, Adams will be happy to have his star bowler firing on all cylinders in the final of the MODC and for the remainder of the Sunfoil Series.
Another key performer for the Cape side this season has been young right-arm quick, Tshepo Moreki. He is currently the Cobras’ top wicket-taker in the competition with 15 scalps in 10 games. His infallible ability to hit the right sort of areas has seen his stock rise massively over the last few months. He may not be too far away from a call-up to the South African ‘A’ side – keep your eyes peeled.
The Cobras’ biggest asset is their wealth of quality, big-hitting batsmen. Andrew Puttick, Richard Levi, Dane Vilas and Justin Ontong are all more than capable of taking the game away from the opposition in the space of a few overs. They also have the likes of Stiaan van Zyl and Omphile Ramela who are able to quietly put together big scores at one end while their more belligerent teammates go hard at the other.
The Lions have largely relied on the exploits of Alviro Petersen, Aaron Phangiso, Eddie Leie and Matt McGillivray for their dominant performances throughout this season. Petersen in particular, has been different class following the Lions’ refusal to grant him an NOC to play in the Masters Champions League.
The move to block the former Test opener’s move to the UAE proved a masterstroke. The right-hander has generally come in at number 3 for the Johannesburg franchise this season, and his numbers are phenomenal. He’s scored a monumental 671 runs in 10 innings at an average of 83.87.
What’s more telling is his conversion rate – when the big man has his eye in, he’s virtually unstoppable. He’s managed to convert all five half-centuries he’s scored this season into hundreds.
Geoffrey Toyana may also have the luxury of being able to call on two of the best spinners in this season’s competition. Aaron Phangiso and Eddie Leie – who remains touch-and-go for this weekend’s final – have been immense. They’ve routinely strangled batsmen at one end while the likes of McGillivray and Hardus Viljoen do the damage at the other end. Leie, in particular, has impressed me, and it’ll be an absolute shame if he isn’t fit to play in the final on a Newlands deck that will no doubt have something in it for the spinners.
It’s also worth mentioning that Phangiso has just been reported for a suspect action following his side’s win against the Warriors on Wednesday. He will need to undergo an independent analysis by a member of the ICC Panel of Human Movement Specialists. The off-spinner will, however, be allowed to play until the results of the test are released.
The Lions have a wonderful balance to their side that not many franchises in the country can rival. They’re also quite lucky in the sense that they’ve not lost the bulk of their squad to the national set-up as the Cobras and the Titans have. They’re a settled unit and look excellent value to claim the spoils at Newlands on Saturday.
Verdict: Lions 16/10
This year’s final will most certainly be contested by the two best teams in this season’s competition. While the Cobras look as though they’re the stronger team on paper, I’m of the opinion that Aaron Phangiso and Eddie Leie – should they play – will swing this particular match in favour of the Lions. Back them at 16/10.