Akhona Mnyaka the hero for Cobras as Pretorius and Lions denied in last-over drama

JOHANNESBURG – JP Duminy has runs and overs under his belt as heads back to the Proteas camp, where he hopes to feature in the tail-end of the One-Day series with Sri Lanka.

Thursday’s One-Day Cup match between the Highveld Lions and Cape Cobras at the Wanderers was Duminy’s second game back after four months out following shoulder surgery, and there was much substance to this performance than his first one last Friday against the Titans at Newlands.

To be fair, that wasn’t going to be hard. Last week, he bowled three overs and conceded 18 runs. He also made a two-ball duck.

There wasn’t much to gauge from that display, but his good mate – Proteas captain Faf du Plessis – did mention last weekend that runs weren’t important for Duminy at this stage; having confidence in his body was.

However, runs are always good for any batsman, and Duminy scored 62 of them at the Wanderers on Thursday, spending 81 minutes at the crease in the process while once more getting a feel for the ebbs and flows of a 50-over game.

He helped the Cobras reach 281/9 in their 50 overs, and a superb final over by young paceman Akhona Mnyaka won the game by three runs for the visitors, as the Lions ended on 278/9.

With regards to Duminy, it was an innings in which he was largely untroubled. He took his time adjusting to the same pitch that was used in last Sunday’s ODI between South Africa and Sri Lanka, which Du Plessis had described as tricky.

The ball didn’t come on to the bat as is supposedly the norm here and Duminy, like all the batsmen, had to work hard for their runs.

He had to carefully assess the pace when he got to the middle, and had to pay due respect to a good spell from the Lions left-arm spinner Bjorn Fortuin.

By the time he’d faced 12 balls, he felt comfortable enough to go over the top of mid-off, picking up three.

The next ball he faced from Aaron Phangiso was smacked over midwicket for six, and then he hit a fine sweep for four immediately thereafter.  

The sluggishness of the pitch made shot-making hard, so Duminy had to switch to ‘nudge and nurdle’ mode for the most part.

Nevertheless, he was rewarded with a solid half-century.

Importantly for the Cobras, who’ve had some batting problems of late, Duminy was able to share a stand of 115 for the third wicket with a resolute Pieter Malan, who went on to complete a 10th limited-overs hundred.

Malan was eventually run out following a mix-up with George Linde for 102 (177 minutes, 127 balls, 8×4).

It was not an innings that will live long in the memory, but given the outcome of the match, it was a valuable one.

A run out was also the cause of Duminy’s dismissal earlier. His, however, was the result of pushing for a risky second run, as Ryan Rickleton produced a fine pick-up and a direct hit to leave the Cobras captain two metres short of his crease.

Duminy then completed seven overs with the ball, opening the bowling in the process.

He could have had a wicket in his first spell had Rory Kleinveldt moved quicker at leg gully after Kagiso Rapulana offered a chance off the inside edge.

Duminy did strike a vital blow late in the Lions innings by dismissing centurion Dominic Hendricks for 107.

It was Hendricks’ second consecutive century, following his unbeaten 116 in East London last Friday.

Hendricks, who was eventually out for 107 (174 minutes, 118 balls, 12×4) had kept the Lions innings together after the rest of the top order had crumbled by the 16th over.

He and Dwaine Pretorius, who is in the Proteas squad but didn’t play on Wednesday night in Centurion, added 139 for the fifth wicket.

Pretorius maintained his composure, while some of his teammates lost theirs as the match got tight towards the end.

Needing just seven to win off the last over, both Fortuin and Phangiso took wild swipes and were bowled by Mnyaka, leaving Pretorius to try and score a boundary off the last ball for the win.

Pretorius failed, instead picking out Pieter Malan at deep midwicket.

The all-rounder scored 99 (150 minutes, 105 balls, 3×4, 5×6), and coupled with his two wickets earlier, it was a good and useful outing for him before he rejoins the Proteas – the final result notwithstanding.

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AkhonaMnyaka - Akhona Mnyaka the hero for Cobras as Pretorius and Lions denied in last-over drama

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