Cobras edge Warriors to take Pro20 title
Cape Cobras 166 for 5 (Levi 45) beat Warriors 154 for 6 (Kelly Smuts 56*) by 12 runs
The Warriors became the first South African franchise to qualify for the Champions League T20 for two seasons in succession but they were unable to defend their domestic title and had to settle for the runner-up berth. They lost to Cobras by 12 runs in front of a full house at Newlands on Friday.
The Cobras started in belligerently with Richard Levi and Herschelle Gibbs fashioning a first-wicket stand of 88 inside nine overs. Gibbs played a more restrained anchor role, contributing just 11 runs to the 50 partnership and was dropped by former national team-mate Mark Boucher on 21. He ended on 35 off 21 balls and then chopped one on to his stumps off Justin Kreusch's bowling.
Levi, who ended the competition as the third-highest run scorer, was on 45 at the time and was out the very next ball, holing out to Jon-Jon Smuts at long-on. Makhaya Ntini removed Justin Ontong for 6, Kreusch had Dane Vilas caught at backward point for 5 and Justin Kemp was bowled by Smuts for 6 to leave the Cobras in a precarious position on 130 for 5 in the 17th over.
Owais Shah, the tournament's top run scorer, held things together with an aggressive 39 off 26 balls. He had Vernon Philander at his side, who contributed 17 off 10 balls and together they took the Cobras to 166 for 5 - a challenging total on a pitch that would assist spin.
The Warriors found themselves constantly fighting to stay afloat as wickets pushed them below the required run-rate throughout. Davy Jacobs' miserable time at the crease continued as he fell lbw to Philander for 13. Ashwell Prince was run out for 21, just as he was starting to look threatening and Mark Boucher was bowled by Claude Henderson for four.
The Smuts brothers took the target to under 100 but when Jon-Jon left, it was up to Kelly to mount a challenge. He scored an unbeaten half-century on debut and added 82 runs off 42 balls with Kreusch. The youth and experience combination came within 14 runs of the target and lasted until the final over. That was the over where the Warriors needed 26 and after they managed 15 of them, Kreusch was bowled by Johann Louw. The Warriors were able to add just one more run to their total and finished on 154 for 6.
The match was billed as being a clash between teamwork from the Warriors and individual stars from the Cobras before it was played, but it turned out to be opposite as Smuts junior was the only batting star, while a strong all-round bowling performance from the Cobras gave them the crown.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent