Highveld Lions off to winning start

Stephen Cook (File, Gallo Images)
Stephen Cook (File, Gallo Images)

Johannesburg - Stephen Cook and Alviro Petersen both scored stellar centuries as the Highveld Lions got their Momentum One-Day Cup campaign off to a flying start with a comprehensive eight-wicket win over the Cape Cobras at Bidvest Wanderers on Saturday evening.

Cook finished unbeaten on 127 from 131 deliveries while Petersen scored a run-a-ball 100, allowing the Lions to make light work of a target of 271, which they achieved with almost six overs to spare.

Not only was the pair’s 213-run stand the highest partnership for any wicket for the Lions against the Cobras, but it also beat the second-wicket record for the Wanderers, which had stood since the 1988/89 season when Henry Fotheringham and Roy Pienaar put on an unbroken 211 for Transvaal against Orange Free State.

There was often an effortlessness about the way Cook and Petersen went about their business, which was only shattered when Petersen had his off-stump pegged back by Cobras debutant, Tshepo Moreki.

Neil McKenzie ensured there were no further dramas for the hosts, as he accompanied Cook to the target to finish unbeaten on 24.

While Cook and Petersen were the standout performers, the bowlers also deserved credit for the way in which they restricted the Cobras to 270 for five.

After Cook had won the toss and stuck the visitors in to bat, his seamers found an unhittable length with impressive regularity, ensuring that the Cobras had to wait until the final four overs to gain any impetus.

Richard Levi fell into a trap set for him at mid-off and Andrew Puttick suffered an unfortunate run-out at the non-striker’s end to leave the Cobras 27 for two, forcing a lengthy rebuilding phase that was overseen by Stiaan van Zyl (47) and Omphile Ramela (59).

Although the pair added 86 for the third wicket, they could only score at around four runs per over as the Lions bowlers maintained their consistency.

While Van Zyl fell when he found the man at deep square-leg, Ramela was beaten in the flight by young left-arm spinner Bjorn Fortuin and easily stumped by Thami Tsolekile.

Captain, Justin Ontong, injected some urgency into the Cobras innings with his energetic 49, but it was only when Vernon Philander came to the crease that the Cobras innings took off.

His 50 not out came off just 28 balls, and provided the firepower that saw the Cobras score 56 in the last four overs, with Dane Vilas contributing just 26 in an unbroken 77-run stand from 45 balls.

For the Cobras, though, it proved too little, too late.

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