Mihlali Mpongwana. Remember the name!
The Western Province all-rounder struck a maiden List A century and claimed 3/32 to drive Western Province to the Cricket SA 1-Day Cup title at Newlands on Saturday.
Mpongwana, 23, is a homegrown Cape Town prodigy that has come through the youth system whilst attending the Western Cape Sports School.
The lanky right-hander’s 105 (109 balls, 8x4, 3x6) was of even greater importance as he joined his skipper Kyle Verreynne with Province deep in the quagmire at 81/4.
But instead of being overwhelmed by the occasion, Mpongwana knuckled down with Verreynne (111 off 103 balls, 8x4,2x6) as the pair put together a match-winning 199-run partnership for the fifth wicket.
Verreynne’s contribution can certainly also not be underestimated. The WP captain was determined to bring home the first silverware to Newlands in seven years and would have felt the pressure when Province lost Tony de Zorzi, Jonathan Bird and David Bedingham with just 39 runs on the board.
True to his style all season, Verreynne began the counter-attack by staying positive and taking the attack to the North West bowlers.
The pair dovetailed perfectly, pouncing on anything short or overpitched, as the North West bowling unit struggled to forge the breakthrough.
The momentum of the final had shifted, and even more so with Verreynne and Mpongwana now finding the boundary with regular ease.
Both batters reached their respective milestones within a couple of overs of each other, with Verreynne in particular enjoying his with a bow to his teammates in the dugout.
Mpongwana’s celebration was much more composed, only taking off his helmet to acknowledge the applause, but Verreynne’s embrace in the middle of the pitch showed just how much it was valued within the Province team.
It ultimately took a brilliant piece of fielding from Rynand van Tonder, who produced a direct hit from mid-on to bring an end to Verreynne’s innings and the partnership.
Province’s innings finished meekly with Kerwin Mungaroo (3/66) closing out the death overs, but the damage had already been done.
Buoyed by the batters’ recovery, Province’s ace new-ball bowlers Nandre Burger and Beuran Hendricks had their tails up and immediately had the Dragons in all sorts of trouble.
Burger began the procession when he had Lesego Senokwane caught by Hendricks at slip before Abdallah Bayoumy produced an excellent direct hit to run out the dangerous Meeka-eel Prince.
The Dragons had no way back after suffering the early setbacks with captain Wihan Lubbe fighting a lone battle with a defiant 70.
Senuran Muthusamy (25) tried to keep his skipper company, but after he was caught behind the visitors’ challenge folded.
Bayoumy (3/24) finished off the North West tail with a couple of wickets to deliver the coupe de grace and ensure Province’s return to the top of the perch in South African cricket.
Western Province: 307/8 (Verreynne 111, Mpongwana 105, Mungaroo 3/66)
North West: 200 (Lubbe 70, Bayoumy 3/24 Mpongwana 3/32)
Western Province won by 107 runs