Cobras cruise to big victory
Cape Cobras 136 for 3 (Gibbs 55, Henriques 1-20) beat New South Wales 135 for 8 (Watson 34, Philander 2-21) by seven wickets
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Cape Cobras completed a clinical win over New South Wales in a contest that failed to capture the same imagination in the same way the tournament opener did on Friday. Cobras fielded poorly and were unimpressive in the field in the first 10 overs but adjusted quickly to restrict New South Wales to under 140 on a slow pitch. The surface was not as sluggish for the chase, which Cape Cobras dominated.
Neither side had played competitively for a few months, with both coming out of winter in their respective countries, but it was the South Africans who showed their rustiness. Justin Ontong should have ran David Warner out in the second over but missed the stumps and gave away four overthrows. Both openers, Warner and Shane Watson, were dropped at mid-on within four balls of each other and Warner was dropped a second time, by Robin Peterson at mid-wicket. He responded with the first six of the match, a smashing shot over long-on but his luck ran out the next ball, when Charl Langeveldt showed his variation with a slower, short ball and Warner pulled to deep mid-wicket. Ontong held on to the chance to give the Cobras their first wicket.
Watson continued capitalising on his lifeline with some masterful strokes. His six off Vernon Philander over mid-off and powerful four down the ground where the highlights of his innings. Peterson's love affair with the Chennai pitch continued - he took three wickets here for South Africa against England at the World Cup in February - and he bowled Watson with a well-flighted ball that had the Australian playing the sweep shot too early. The brakes had bee applied and Cape Cobras pushed them down firmly in the second half of the innings.
Justin Kemp removed his opposite number, Simon Katich, with a gentle delivery that Katich tried to hit over the cover boundary but JP Duminy took a fine catch to send him on his way. Kemp's slower deliveries at one end and Philander's wicket to wicket line at the other ensured that only 20 runs were scored in the next four over and 53 in the last ten.
Although Cape Cobras did not bowl extraordinarily well, they were able to prevent New South Wales from scoring on a surface that slowed down. Kemp and Langeveldt's arsenal consisted of good variations, particularly of the slower ball and even Steyn was forced to bowl with far less gas than usual.
Cape Cobras bossed the chase from ball one when Nathan Hauritz presented Richard Levi with a long hop that he pulled behind square. Gibbs was, unusually, the more watchful partner and was particularly hesitant to take on 18-year-old paceman Pat Cummins at first.
While Gibbs was debating what to do with Cummins, Levi manhandled Mitchell Starc, dispatching the short ball, the full one and the slower one. Cummins bowled several short balls in his first two overs and once Gibbs had decided to use his pace, he was tossed around the field. Gibbs' first six was precarious but he was soon middling the ball and hit the biggest six of the tournament so far, 90 metres, off Nathan Hauritz.
None of the New South Wales bowlers were able to make run-scoring difficult for Cape Cobras on a pitch that the Australian side made look far trickier to execute strokes on. Levi's dismissal slowed things down a touch, Gibbs recorded his half-century and was out soon after, Owais Shah came and went cheaply, but JP Duminy and Justin Ontong finished it off with almost three overs to spare.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent