The most prolific run-scorer in the Momentum One Day Cup competition last season, Andrew Puttick, is a doubtful starter for the Cape Cobras, who will be hosting the Titans in their 50-over domestic clash at Newlands on Friday. Puttick is experiencing some discomfort and pain due to a mouth infection and has been on antibiotics the past few days. The left-hander hammered 652 runs in the One Day Cup competition in 2014/2015 at an average of 72.44.
The Cobras management is still hopeful that he will recover for the clash and will wait until Friday before a final decision is taken. Puttick and Richard Levi excelled as opening partners last season. The Cape franchise’s selectors have kept faith in the squad that travelled to Gauteng for the opening match of the domestic competition last week, and have retained the group of 13, with Keegan Petersen added as possible replacement for Puttick at the top of the order.
Paul Adams, the Cobras coach, demanded higher intensity from his troops for the double-header on Friday against the Titans and on Sunday at Boland Park in Paarl against the Knights. Adams says: ‘Everybody has got to lift their game.’ There was a new-found intensity at training the past week, and it was particularly evident in the fielding practice at Newlands where the players aggressively attacked the ball and secured a number of direct hits.
Although Adams has always been an advocate of the philosophy of establishing a solid base, he also said the Cape Cobras have to play positive cricket and strike the boundaries when the opportunity presents itself up front. The Cobras left too many deliveries unpunished in the middle period in their eight-wicket defeat against the Highveld Lions. Vernon Philander’s late surge and some excellent batting by Justin Ontong gave the Cobras vital momentum at the business-end of the innings and they finished on 270 for five.
Wicketkeeper Dane Vilas says: ‘There were too many dot balls in the middle of the innings.’ The left-arm spinner Robin Peterson captured 18 wickets in the One Day Cup competition last season, but he will require some spin bowling support from Ontong at Newlands. The Titans are likely to use three left-handed batsmen, Dean Elgar, Qaasim Adams and Albie Morkel, at number four, five and six, and the underrated Ontong could be a threat as off-spinner.
The continued improvement by Tshepo Moreki will be followed with interest as he could be a real threat with his pace and swing early in the innings. He showed some promise in his second spell at the Wanderers in his debut for the Cobras against the Lions last Saturday. The Cobras squad for the match against the Titans and the Knights are: Justin Ontong (capt), Richard Levi, Andrew Puttick, Keegan Petersen, Wayne Parnell, Stiaan Van Zyl, Omphile Ramela, Dane Vilas, Robin Peterson, Lizaad Williams, Mthokozisi Shezi, Tshepo Moreki, Vernon Philander, Dane Paterson.