Reeza Hendricks runs between the wickets during a RAM Slam T20 Challenge match. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

DURBAN - By the time Wiaan Mulder joined him for the last ball in what had become a tense situation in the Highveld Lions' T20 Challenge match against the Dolphins on Sunday, Reeza Hendricks, cramping and exhausted had to put to one side his delight at scoring a hundred and focus on a question Mulder had for him.

The Lions needed three runs to win off the final ball. “Do I try for a six or just go for a four?” Mulder asked Hendricks. “I said lets keep it on the ground, try for four, but if you keep it on the ground, we can run two and at least tie the game,” Hendricks responded.

“But the young man hit it, beat long on... it was great." The Lions’ six-wicket win secured, Hendricks could properly celebrate his maiden T20 century, an unbeaten 102 off 72 balls in which he struck 12 fours. 

“I wasn’t thinking too hard out there, just playing. I got a good start in the powerplay, hit a few boundaries which got me going. Then Rassie (Van der Dussen) and I kept it simple during the middle period, we knew it was going to be hard for the new batsmen coming in,” Hendricks explained.

That the match had such a tense finish was largely down to some excellent death bowling from Andile Phehlukwayo - who underlined his mastery in the latter stages once again by conceding just six runs and picking up two wickets in the penultimate over.

“It was a difficult pitch, quite slow and their guys did bowl very well at the end,” Hendricks acknowledged. He shared an opening stand of 158 with Van der Dussen, who scored 57, that Phehlukwayo ended in the 19th over.

The Lions lost three more wickets, before Mulder’s last ball heroics and while they would have liked to have ended the game earlier, Hendricks admitted that a close win like Sunday’s reinforces team spirit.

“The boys came running onto the field, there was a great vibe afterwards in the dressing-room, a win like that, does go a long way to building team spirit and it will help us as we go forward in the competition,” he said.

Hendricks is now the competition’s leading run scorer, and says his recent form is the result of hard work in the off-season paying dividends. “The whole season has been going alright. My training has been good, I’ve been practicing hard, so it’s nice when it leads to success," Hendricks said.

“I’ve scored runs in the four-day competition, but I can’t really point to one specific moment when it’s clicked for me, it’s all been going well and hopefully I can maintain it for the rest of the season.”

Back-to-back wins for the Lions have seen them move to second on the standings, but just two points ahead of the Dolphins and Knights. It’s actually an interesting competition, if you take away the table-topping Titans, who are on 19 points, following four wins, three of which they achieved with a bonus point.

Hendricks said that while the Lions’ batting and bowling has fared well through the first week of the competition, their fielding will require urgent attention ahead of this weekend’s trip to the Cape.

“Our fielding has been letting us down. Dropped catches happen, but there’s also been a lot of ‘miss-fields’ and they can be very costly. We are giving our opponents 20 runs, which of course makes batting a bit harder. We were chasing 170 on Sunday, when we should have been chasing about 150, so that’s an area we want to work on this week,” Hendricks said.

The Star

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