CAPE TOWN – It has been a tough last couple of months for Cape Cobras batsman Aviwe Mgijima.
The 30-year-old lost his father during the One-Day Cup, and it was clear that the emotional strain was affecting his performances on the field.
Mgijima was struggling to attain the levels he reached only a season ago when he was named Cobras Player of the Year.
He was suffering from a serious lack of confidence, and it only increased after each failure, especially as Mgijima is a senior member of the Cobras batting unit.
There seemed almost a sense of desperation to contribute to the team’s cause.
Three wickets in his new off-spinning role in an earlier T20 Challenge clash helped alleviate the building pressure, which would undoubtedly have played a role in him ripping off the shackles at Boland Park on Wednesday evening.
Mgijima smashed 55 not out off just 30 balls (3×6, 3×4) to drive the Cobras past the Titans’ imposing 182/3 that has placed Ashwell Prince’s team firmly at the top of the T20 Challenge standings.
The innings had greater substance too for Mgijima had walked to the crease after the Cobras had lost all the momentum built up by Janneman Malan and David Bedingham – both youngsters contributed 37 off 24 balls – by losing three wickets in quick succession to fall to 86/4 in the 10th over.
The Cobras have often lost their way at this juncture in white-ball cricket this season, but with another player who has recently found a fresh dose of confidence, Jason Smith (28 off 18 balls), the pair added 59 runs off just 34 balls for the fifth wicket to get the run-chase going again.
Mgijima, in particular, seized the initiative during this period. Realising the Cobras required a 20-plus over to transfer the pressure on to the Titans, the right-hander tucked into Henry Davids’ off-spinners by smashing three consecutive sixes.
It was a game-changer, which was acknowledged by Cobras assistant coach Faiek Davids.
“I thought the one over of Henry was a crucial over and that’s where we changed the game by taking 21 runs off the over,” Davids said. “It was a good wicket we played on. I thought their 180 was a good total. I thought we went about it quite well.
“We stayed with the run-rate from the word go, in terms of our batting, the way Janneman played, the partnership between Janneman and David Bedingham, they set us up nicely and kept the momentum going.
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“We went at 9/10 runs per over, and then we lost three quick wickets in the middle.
“But then Avie (Mgijima) came in and played really nicely.
“He played a really unbelievable knock!”
The Cobras will hope Mgijima can continue this red-hot form over the next couple of days when they face the Highveld Lions at Newlands today before travelling to Durban for their final league clash against the Dolphins on Sunday.