Brutal day for Dolphins as Cobras pack a punch

2015-03-27 00:00

IT was a day of surprises at the City Oval yesterday on day one of the four-day meeting between the Dolphins and the Cobras. It was surprising that the weather cleared and allowed a full day’s play of 96 overs, that the Cobras clobbered 440 runs in the day and that the green pitch, which looked to offer something to the bowlers, yielded just four wickets.

It was a brutal day for the Dolphins who must feel like a boxer who has taken a terrible pounding in a title fight, only managing to get in a few telling blows while the opposition has slugged away. Scoring at 4,6 to the over, the Cobras, after being asked to bat, have set a massive platform, starting today at 440-4, clearly keen to bat only once and take 20 Dolphins wickets.

Some wayward bowling from the Dolphins who had Ryan McLaren, Graham Hume and Craig Kirsten as their speed merchants, backed by spinners Keshav Maharaj, Daryn Smit and Khaya Zondo, allowed the Cobras to get off to a rollicking start. Andrew Puttick, opening with Matthew Kleinveldt, cousin of Rory, got stuck in, reaching his fifty from 53 balls and dominating the century opening stand with 63 runs, while Kleinveldt jabbed his way to 15.

Conceding 47 extras through the day — 35 coming from byes and leg byes — gives an indication of the bowling and uneven bounce of the pitch, Dolphins ’keeper and captain Morné van Wyk performing some impressive acrobatics at times behind the stumps.

It took until the 29th over for a breakthrough, the impressive Puttick nicking Maharaj to Morné van Wyk for 75 from 94 balls in an opening partnership of 131. All the while Kleinveldt built his innings and added 39 with Omphlie Ramala (14) whose innings ended when he played on from a McLaren delivery.

Cobras captain Justin Ontong then marched out and only marched off again at the end of play, having brought up his 150 in the last over of the day, registering his 23rd first class hundred as he put on 166 for the third wicket with Kleinveldt. The pair were in a neck-and-neck charge to see who would reach their hundred first, but Kleinveldt eventually fell for 97, LBW to Maharaj who provided the only glimmer of hope for the Dolphins when he had Dane Vilas LBW for a duck on the same score.

That was the only reward of the day for the Dolphins as Justin Kemp showed his class with an undefeated 57, his 35th first class half-century, sharing an undefeated partnership of 104 with his captain for the fifth wicket.

Craig Kirsten, making his debut for the senior Dolphins side, generated good pace and bounce at times, but let it slip with too many loose deliveries. He worked tirelessly though as the sun broke through, sending down an impressive 22 overs for 100 runs, a century he would rather put in file 13. Maharaj has 3-101 from 25 overs and McLaren 1-74 from 19 overs.

“Despite my fast start, the ball was swinging and dipping,” said Puttick. “There was much on offer for the bowlers if they hit the right areas and you had to bat well to score runs. If we had won the toss, we would have bowled as well.”

Dolphins coach Lance Klusener echoed the same sentiments saying, “It shouldn’t have been 276-2 at the tea break. This ground is known for its un­even bounce and the bowlers have to put their back into it to get results.”

Play starts at 9 am today and entry is free.

SCORES IN BRIEF (DAY ONE)

Cobras 440-4 (Ontong 150*, M Kleinveldt 97, Puttick 75, Kemp 57*; Maharaj 3-101).

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