If he and the middle-order hit their straps, terminate the tendency to score 20’s or 30’s and regularly strike big 50s, the Cape Cobras will comfortably beat all-comers in the Ram Slam T20 Challenge, said Richard Levi. The hard-hitting Levi, who once hammered 117 off 51 balls with 13 sixes in a T20-International, made his bold prediction despite the fact that an injury jinx has left the Cobras vulnerable and almost in a state of despair. They lost the services of their two premier left-arm spinners Robin Peterson and GF Linde through broken fingers.
To add to their woes, Kieron Pollard badly hurt his knee on Sunday while changing direction to field a ball after a wicked bounce in the T20 Challenge win against the Knights at Boland Park in Paarl. The brave West Indies all-rounder hobbled down the stairs after the Cobras had thoughts of replacing him because of his bad physical state, and smashed an unbeaten 23 off 12 deliveries. His defiance and bold boundary-hitting through clenched teeth and despite enormous discomfort carried the Cape Cobras to a four-wicket win.
Wayne Parnell, who captured 4/20 in the win against the Dolphins a week ago at SuperSport Park, injured his foot when hit on it while bowling at Paarl on Sunday. Both these stalwarts will undergo X-rays on Monday to determine the nature of their injuries. Levi has been the Cape Cobras’ premier batsman in T20-cricket this season, smashing 226 runs at an average of 32.28 and a strike-rate of 161.42, but he has given himself only a 6 to 7 out of 10-rating.
He says: ‘If you score 75 to 80 at a certain rate, your team will be winning 90 % of the matches. If I and the middle-order hit our straps and score big, we will comfortably beat any side. We need to get us over the line. I have been getting out regularly for 30’s, and yes, I have scored two half-centuries, but that is not enough.’
Paul Adams, the Cape Cobras coach, agreed, saying: ‘Richard keeps on getting out at the end of the power plays. If he can bat longer during the middle-period, and if we score 80’s at a strike-rate of 140 of more, we will make life easier for ourselves.’ The Cobras middle-order has battled to assert themselves, but Levi has been more sympathetic to their performances than die-hard supporters with demanding and critical spirits. He says: ‘At times it is difficult to get going in the middle-period when the ball is not so hard, as the pitches are slower this time of the year. It is quite commonplace to see teams either score 180 for three through a very high-risk approach, or finish on 110 for nine. The conditions do play a role.’
The Cobras, the defending champions in the T20 Challenge, sprung a surprise on Sunday by dropping Omphile Ramela, their batting hero in the domestic T20-final last season. Ramela, who finished the 2014/2015-season by smashing two consecutive Sunfoil Series-centuries, has not been at his stylish best this season. He has only contributed 64 runs in six innings. Adams says: ‘We have spoken to him. He has just been out of nick.’