An escape it was, as the Cape Cobras looked dead and buried on 80 for three after 11.1 overs in pursuit of the Knights’ 174 for five in their Ram Slam T20 Challenge clash.
Sensational cameos by Rory Kleinveldt (36 from 14 balls with four sixes), SA Engelbrecht (33 from 15 balls with three fours and two sixes) and Lesiba Ngoepe (16 from eight balls, two sixes) carried the visitors to 176 for six.
One of the batting heroes, Engelbrecht, had to take pain-killers before his knock as he still nurses two injured fingers. Yet, he accelerated splendidly after the departure of Kleinveldt and Andrew Puttick (37 off 36 balls) in quick succession.
“I had a clear game plan as we have been practicing this week in and week out and I decided to stay as calm as possible,” said Ngoepe.
He slapped Malusi Siboto over cow corner for a six in the penultimate over to take the Cobras to the brink, and then deposited a missed Yorker on leg stump with a straight six over long on to send the Cobras camp into cricketing Nirvana. The Cobras finished on 176 for six.
“From what I have seen, it was probably the best batting team performance of the season. Reeza Hendricks got 98 for them and the rest of them chipped in, but collectively, we all made contributions.
“This will boost us as a batting unit, and will give us the confidence we can chase anything down in the Ram Slam T20 Challenge. Obviously we have a bowling attack that can restrict teams,” said Ngoepe.
The former South African u.19-player said the three months he spent at the national academy was the best of his life in terms of a learning curve.
“Yes, this performance will instil new confidence in me, as I have had starts so far, but have not carried on,” he added.
“Rory and Puttick laid a good foundation for us to be aggressive. We still had a few balls to get settled. It was a good pitch, but it was important to keep your shape through the ball (and not over hit it),” said Engelbrecht.
Engelbrecht revealed he had to take pain-killers before his courageous knock as he is still nursing two injured fingers which had to be bandaged before he walked onto the park.
“I think I have improved my batting significantly the past four years,” he added.
“Puttick and Ontong stayed quite calm during our chase,” said Paul Adams, the Cape Cobras coach.
“The batsmen backed themselves in key moments and backed their skill,” he added.