Gibbs onslaught steers Cobras to title
Herschelle Gibbs' brutal 62-ball 87 steered the Cobras to a 22-run win over the Eagles in the final of the Pro20 Series at Cape Town
Cobras 147 for 5 (Gibbs 87*) beat Eagles 125 for 8 (Philander 3-17, Langeveldt 3-20) by 22 runs
Herschelle Gibbs' brutal 62-ball 87 steered the Cobras to a 22-run win over the Eagles in the final of the Pro20 Series at Cape Town.
Gibbs' innings came after the Cobras, who had won the toss, made a low-key start to their innings. They lost Graeme Smith in the first over and next got on top of some decent bowling, so by the end of the ninth they had reached only 42 for 2.
The introduction of Thandi Tshabalala into the attack turned the innings. Gibbs glanced his second ball for four and slammed his third for six over long-on to raise the fifty and bring the crowd to life. Justin Ontong slog-swept Ryan Bailey for a four and a six but holed out to long-on in the next over. However, there was no stopping Gibbs.
Boeta Dippenaar chopped and changed his bowlers, but while they kept the other batsmen in check, Gibbs farmed the bulk of the strike, scoring the majority of his runs between long-on and midwicket, milking the fine-leg area to good effect as well. He rode his luck well, a few inside edges going his way, but it was nevertheless a fine innings.
The Eagles chase never got out of second gear, and the Cobras seamers kept a tight check on the first half of the innings. After nine over the Eagles were 55 for 2, slightly ahead of the Cobras at the same stage, but the difference was none of their batsmen was able to play a major innings.
Dippenaar holed out to long-on, Bailey was brilliantly caught one-handed by JP Duminy on the square-leg boundary and then Dean Elgar, who had begun to look dangerous, tamely chipped a slower ball to mid-on. At 88 for 5 with an asking rate into double figures, the game was slipping away.
The next two overs from Claude Henderson and Charl Langeveldt produced only ten runs and the home crowd began to celebrate. Langeveldt took two in two in his final over to finish with 3 for 20, and with 27 needed off the last over, Vernon Philander, who took a wicket in each of his three overs, kept his head and bowled a tight line and length.
Langeveldt finished with 16 wickets in this season's competition and his mix of change of pace, reverse-swinging yorkers and the judicious use of the bouncer have made him the complete package. He won the Master Blaster bowling award, while Gibbs took the one for batting.
The Cobras and the Eagles will now represent South Africa in the Champions League to be played in India later this year.
Martin Williamson is executive editor of Cricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa