“The home-advantage will give the Nashua Cape Cobras a 60/40-advantage in the Ram Slam T20 Challenge final on Friday,” said Morné van Wyk, captain of the Sunfoil Dolphins, about the clash against the Chevrolet Knights at the Newlands Cricket Stadium.
Van Wyk said the Cobras and the Knights are deserved finalists and qualifiers for the Champions League Twenty20 in India.
The Cobras boast Hashim Amla and Richard Levi as match-winners in the top-order, while the Knights have the same assets in Rilee Rossouw and Reeza Hendricks.
“The Knights bat a bit deeper than the Cobras. Both have quality fast bowlers, but if the pitch is conducive to turn, it will suit the Cobras, as they have two spinners in George Linde and Robin Peterson. The Knights can use only Werner Coetsee in this respect.”
While Van Wyk thinks it will be a close shave, he expects the home-advantage to give the Cobras the edge.
A capacity crowd is expected at Newlands, with only a few seats still available on Thursday late afternoon.
“The crowd has been our secret weapon in domestic play-offs for many seasons and we wish to thank them for their enthusiastic support,” said Beresford Williams, president of the Western Province Cricket Association.
Rossouw spent some time in bed on Thursday as he suffered from some flue-symptoms, but he is expected to be ready for the match on Friday. Rossouw smashed 64 and 58 in his past two Ram Slam T20 Challenge matches and was a key factor in the 8-wicket win in the semi-final play-offs against the bizhub Highveld Lions.
The Knights are expected to use the slow-poison approach against the Cobras. They bowl with enormous discipline and limit the boundary-options of the batting side, while employing the slower variations expertly to restrict the opposition.
In this respect, Malusi Siboto, Shadley van Schalkwyk and Dillon du Preez are all superb.
The Cobras have been splendid in using their slow bowlers in the middle-period to take wickets.
In Dale Steyn, Shane Paterson and Mthokozisi Shezi they have the fire-power up front to take top-order wickets.
The Cobras are expected to establish a solid base at the top of the order and accelerate later, but they would have learned from their 8-run win against the Knights in Bloemfontein and would display greater urgency in the contest at Newlands.
The duel between the two Caribbean acquisitions, Kieron Pollard and Andre Russell, could be one of the greatest highlights of the game.
Russell issued an ominous warning to the Cobras on Thursday afternoon: “We did not come here only to put up a good fight. We came to Newlands to win it,” he added.
The Cobras retained the fourteen players selected for the final league clash against the Chevrolet Warriors at Boland Park in Paarl.
The Cobras squad is: Justin Ontong (capt), Richard Levi, Hashim Amla, Omphile Ramela, Dane Vilas, Kieron Pollard, Robin Peterson, Dale Steyn, George Linde, Mthokozisi Shezi, Dane Paterson, SA Engelbrecht, Andrew Puttick, Ferisco Adams.