CAPE TOWN. – The fourth youngest South African to hit a double hundred in first-class cricket will make his franchise-debut for the Cape Cobras while two other evolving stars are also poised to assist the Cape champions’ quest to stay in touch with the Sunfoil Series-leaders by repeating their heroics of last season against the Sunfoil Dolphins.
Zybayr Hamza, the fourth-fastest South African to hit a double century in first-class cricket, will make his franchise-debut at age 20 against the Dolphins at Kingsmead in Durban as the visitors display their willingness to invest in emerging players in what is deemed to be a transitional phase for the Cobras.
Four Cobras-players are involved in the Masters Champions League, an international T20-tournament in Dubai. Three of them, Robin Peterson, Richard Levi and Justin Kemp, have been released to leave before the weekend.
That offers an opportunity to Hamza, Jason Smith and Matthew Kleinveldt, to show their mettle at franchise-level. All three have been prolific form this season. Hamsa has hammered 563 runs and Kleinveldt has compiled 511 for Western Province.
In his only other franchise-match, Kleinveldt struck 97 for the Cobras against the Dolphins on their home soil to propel them to a comprehensive win last season.
Smith is a batting all-rounder and a former South African u.19-player who has struck 494 runs and has nipped out 11 batsmen in six matches for the log-leaders, Western Province, in the Sunfoil Three-day Cup.
“This is a vital clash for us to say in touch with the log leaders, so it looms large as a must-win match,” said Paul Adams, the Cape Cobras coach.
Andrew Puttick, senior opening batsman of the Cape Cobras, is on paternity-leave. George Linde is still not at his best following rehabilitation from a finger injury.
The loss of Peterson to Dubai and Dane Piedt to the South African test team after his match-haul of 8-86 against the Warriors will test the Cobras’ strength in depth.
Their pipeline-strategies have been a hall-mark of their success the past decade thanks to astute leadership from André Odendaal and Nabeal Dien.
Adams is confident that the Cobras attack will perform as their bowlers have produced some sterling five-wicket hauls the past two games.
“A key for us again is to assemble a comprehensive first-innings total at Kingsmead,” he said.
The Cobras boast 32.78 points and are just slightly ahead of the Sunfoil Dolphins, who have 32.60 points. The Unlimited Titans, with 60.78, are currently at the top of the table.
The Cobras squad is: Omphile Ramela (captain), Beuran Hendricks, Dane Paterson, Dane Vilas, Jason Smith, Justin Ontong, Keegan Petersen, Lizaad Williams, Matthew Kleinveldt, Rory Kleinveldt, Simon Khomari, Tshepo Moreki, Zubayr Hamza.