Contrasting half-centuries from Richard Levi, Omphile Ramela and Justin Ontong gave the Cape Cobras the first-innings boost that they have been looking for and put them in control of their Sunfoil Series encounter against the Warriors at Newlands. While Levi was typically bullish, taking 11 from his first five deliveries and going on to score 79 at a strike rate of almost 70, Ramela’s unbeaten 81 was an innings of hard graft while Ontong showed class and flair in his 75 not out from just 98 balls. The overall effect took the Nashua Cape Cobras to 316/3, giving them a lead of 28 runs after Rory Kleinveldt had ripped out the last two Warriors wickets in the morning to dismiss the visitors for 288.
The Chevrolet Warriors had closed the first day on 278 for eight, but Kleinveldt returned with renewed vigour on Friday morning to nip out Andrew Birch and Basheeru-Deen Walters in consecutive overs and finish with figures of 4/59 – the same return as fellow quick Dane Paterson. Thanks to Levi’s positivity, the Cobras soon stamped their mark on the reply – by the time Stiaan van Zyl fell for a steady 30, the hosts already had 94 on the board in the 22nd over. As important as Levi’s hare-like start was, the value of Ramela’s tortoise pace came to the fore over the course of the day as Levi perished to Walters and Andrew Puttick came and went for 18.
Although he has not exactly set it on fire, Ramela has enjoyed something of a breakthrough season in franchise cricket, seemingly coming to terms with its demands in his own time. The steady nature of his scoring means that it takes patience to register a serious score – if not a meaningful contribution – and so while this innings took his season average to 35 it was only his second fifty this term. The platform set by the left-hander allowed Ontong to play his natural game, and so the pair complemented each other well in an unbroken stand of 141 that came at 4.2 runs per over.
They will resume on the third morning with the Cobras targeting a score that would prevent the necessity of batting twice.