The VKB Knights tasted victory for the first time in the Momentum One Day Cup when they secured an impressive 75-run bonus-point victory over the WSB Cape Cobras at the Mangaung Oval in Bloemfontein on Sunday.
The Knights, who had been asked to bat first by JP Duminy, posted an aggressive 320 for four thanks to half-centuries from Grant Mokoena (75), Andries Gous (74), Rudi Second (78 not out) and Patrick Kruger (64 not out) with Second and Kruger sharing in an unbeaten stand of 135 for the fifth wicket from just 83 deliveries.
In reply, the Cobras were bowled out for 245 in 41.4 overs despite a maiden List A fifty for wicketkeeper, Kyle Verreynne, who made 54 from 49 deliveries with two boundaries and three maximums. For the home side, legspinner Eddie Leie (9.4-0-65-4) and Mbulelo Budaza (7-0-40-3) were excellent with the ball while Duanne Olivier (1-49), Marchant de Lange (1-48) and Shadley van Schalkwyk (1-42) all picked up a wicket apiece.
The visitors made a solid start in pursuit of 321 for victory with Zubayr Hamza (28) and Pieter Malan (28) posting 56 for the first wicket off 61 deliveries but then De Lange had Malan edging to Gous behind the stumps.
The Cobras lost wickets at regular intervals as the entire top and middle-order failed to kick on from the starts they made. Simon Khomari was caught off Leie for 21, Duminy, who had looked comfortable for his 39, edged Budaza to Gous while Aviwe Mgijima was trapped LBW by Olivier.
Dayyaam Galiem failed to trouble the scorers before Verreynne was joined by George Linde and the pair raised the hopes of the few Cobras fans when they managed 56 runs for the seventh wicket from only 41 balls but then Linde was caught in the deep from the the bowling of Leie for 17.
Rory Kleinveldt (16) struck three lusty boundaries before holing out off Van Schalkwyk while Dane Paterson (22 not out) and Verreynne tried valiantly to keep their side going with an ninth-wicket partnership worth 25 from 28 balls. But then Verreynne was caught off Leie to end any hope of the Cobras snatching victory from the jaws of death before Leie wrapped the innings up, having Mthiwekhaya Nabe popping the ball back to the bowler.
Earlier, the Knights failed to make a promising start when David Miller (8) was clean-bowled by Paterson (10-0-72-1) to leave the hosts on 30 for one. But a wonderful century stand of 113 from 134 balls between Mokoena and Gous laid the foundation for the mammoth total.
Mokoena was aggressive upfront, striking three fours and two sixes from 96 deliveries. The Cobras seemed to bring themselves back into the contest when Gous was run out, after facing 87 deliveries and striking eight boundaries, followed by the quick dismissal of Keegan Petersen for just two.
But Second, who struck five boundaries and four maximums from just 58 balls, and Kruger, took the attack to the bowlers, bringing up their 50-run stand off just 47 deliveries. The pair then accelerated things, needing just another 27 balls to raise their 100-run stand before smashing another 35 runs from nine balls to end the innings.
Kruger, who scored his maiden List A century against the Cobras a week ago in Cape Town, faced just 44 balls while caressing three boundaries and bludgeoning three sixes.
The Cobras seamers were lacklustre with Kleinveldt conceding 76 runs in nine overs and Nabe going for 66 runs in his nine. Only Linde (10-0-39-0) and Duminy (10-1-44-2) carried themselves with any dignity as the Cobras head into their final game needing a victory to secure second place on the log.
Despite the loss, the Cobras will know that should the Hollywoodbets Dolphins lose one of their two remaining games, then they will be one of the hosting semi finalists. But the men from Cape Town will want to make their own destiny and secure the home semi final spot with a victory over the Warriors, whom they face next Friday in Port Elizabeth.
The Knights on the other hand, are in with a shout of making the play-off’s themselves now after their bonus-point victory. Despite still languishing at the bottom of the log, they are now level with the Warriors on 11 points with the bizhub Highveld Lions just above them on 13 points.
The Multiply Titans meanwhile, have secured top spot and a home semi final after their victory over the Dolphins in Pietermaritzburg on Sunday.