Jozi Stars opener Reeza Hendricks salutes the Wanderers crowd after hitting the first hundred of the Mzansi Super League. Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG – It’s taken two weeks and 16 matches for the Mzansi Super League to get its first hundred, and it was a truly specially display from Reeza Hendricks at the Wanderers on Friday night.

If he was truly generous, he might offer part of his man of the match prize-money to the Bullring’s head groundsman Bethuel Buthelezi, for the pitch prepared on Friday night was a belter.

The ball came on to the bat sweetly, the bounce was true, and coupled with the thin Highveld air and fast outfield, it made for perfect batting conditions for the Jozi Stars as they beat the Durban Heat by 53 runs.

Hendricks made excellent use of the conditions, producing an innings that mixed style and power that propelled the Stars to the highest score in the Mzansi Super League of 230/3, surpassing the 209/2 they scored against the Paarl Rocks at Boland Park.

It also tied the third highest total in domestic T20 cricket.

Hendricks and his opening partner Ryan Rickelton were in no real rush at the start, and almost sedately batted at nine runs an over in the Power Play.

Lessons were learned from Wednesday’s match against the Tshwane Spartans, where the pair took the foot off the pedal after the enforced fielding restrictions ended, and got tied up by the Tshwane spinners.

Against Keshav Maharaj and Zimbabwean leg-spinner Brandon Mavuta, they continued to play aggressively, though it was measured.

Hendricks’ driving was once more a pleasure to behold, but what stood out on Friday night was the savagery of his pulling, with Vernon Philander copping a couple of murderous blows over the leg-side.

When the ball wasn’t there to be hit, which was rare, Hendricks placed it cleverly into gaps and ran smartly between the wickets.

He and Rickelton added 99 for the first wicket, with youngster making 45 off 33 balls, hitting three fours and two sixes.

Rassie van der Dussen took aim at one of the tournament’s sponsors’ prizes when he hammered four consecutive sixes off Tladi Bokako to start the 14th over – two of which went into the upper decks of the Memorial and Centenary Stands.

The R10 million for six consecutive sixes was very much on, but Bokako remembered he could bowl a yorker, although the over still went for 30.

Dan Christian took over from Van der Dussen, smashing a quick-fire 36 off only 14 balls, and the crowd got the chance to celebrate in the final over of the innings when Hendricks pulled a single to midwicket to register the competition’s first hundred.

Although the crowd was a paltry one, again – just 4 474 spectators came through the turnstiles – they greeted the achievement loudly, cheering Hendricks off the field at the conclusion of the innings.

Hendricks’ unbeaten 104 surpassed his previous best T20 score of 102, came off 49 balls and included nine fours and half-a-dozen sixes.

The bowling figures – with the exception of Maharaj – understandably made for ugly reading, with poor Bokako taking over from Dane Paterson as the holder of the competition’s worst statistics as he conceded 63 runs in his four overs.

There was a welcome return to form for Kagiso Rabada, who claimed three wickets in the first over of the Heat’s chase, and when David Miller fell to Nono Pongolo’s first ball, the Heat’s race was run.

Morné van Wyk top-scored with 66 off 33 balls as the Heat were bowled out for 177.

Rabada finished with figures of 4/27.

@shockerhess


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