Andrew Puttick recorded back-to-back centuries and Travis Muller and Dane Paterson shared eight wickets, but the Nashua Cape Cobras fell one wicket short of victory on a dramatic fourth day of their Sunfoil Series contest against the Chevrolet Knights at the Diamond Oval.
Puttick added an unbeaten 101 to the 100 he scored in the first innings as the Cobras scored 299 for seven declared, leaving the Knights a target of 290 in 72 overs. The hosts were well on track for victory when Obus Pienaar and Werner Coetsee put on 105 for the sixth wicket at exactly a run a ball, but Muller returned to pick up four wickets in 12 balls to leave the Knights’ final pair with four overs to hang on for the draw.
Muller (5 for 44) and Paterson (3 for 74) each had two goes but were unable to break through, leaving both sides with diminishing prospects of challenging for silverware in the competition. The two sides that topped the standings last season remain rooted to the bottom of the table, with the Cobras still winless after five matches. The Cobras went into the day on 165 for two, leading by 155, and lost overnight batsman Omphile Ramela (80) early on to put Puttick under extra pressure.
The left-hander had made 27 from 77 balls on the third day, but added 74 from 90 deliveries on the fourth, even as wickets fell regularly at the other end. Malusi Siboto dismissed Pieter Malan and Sybrand Engelbrecht in one spell before Werner Coetsee had both Lesiba Ngoepe and Dane Piedt stumped before Beuran Hendricks (18 not out) finally lent some support to Puttick.
Once Puttick had reached his century the Cobras declared, and Paterson gave them the perfect start to the final innings when he had Reeza Hendricks caught behind and then bowled Tumelo Bodibe. Muller trapped Rudi Second lbw and then Paterson dismissed Pite van Biljon to leave the Knights 90 for four, but Gihahn Cloete (57) and Pienaar put on 52 for the fifth wicket in 10 overs to put the hosts back on track.
Pienaar and Coetsee picked it up from there, hitting regular boundaries to take the Knights into the final 10 overs of the match needing 61 runs with five wickets in hand. They appeared to have the target easily in their sights until Muller struck to remove both Coetsee and Shadley van Schalkwyk in the space of three balls, then picked up Pienaar and Corne Dry in his next over.
The 21-year-old’s fifth five-wicket haul in first-class cricket looked likely to prove the match-winning contribution, but Siboto and Duanne Olivier denied him the pleasure