Temba Bavuma’s third limited-overs century marshalled the Highveld Lions to a fine first win in this season’s Momentum One-Day Cup over their provincial neighbours in Potchefstroom on Wednesday night.
The Lions captain has unfairly been boxed as a ‘red-ball’ player and is keen to dispel the notion that he is incapable of playing in the shorter formats.
He scored 117 off 108 balls, hitting 14 boundaries in an innings of the highest quality at Senwes Park in the eight-wicket victory.
Along with Reeza Hendricks’ 95, Bavuma’s performance was central to a stunningly composed run chase of 311/2 of what was a hefty 310 target set by the Titans, thanks to some big hitting in the last 10 overs.
Bavuma drove and pulled with power and panache in sharing vital partnerships with Hendricks and then Rassie van der Dussen (46 not out) as the Lions won with three overs to spare.
It was a crucial first win in the competition, after two of their first four matches – both at the Wanderers – had been rained out, while they lost to the Dolphins and Cobras.
Like Bavuma’s, Hendricks’ innings was packed with elegant strokes – as is his wont.
He had set the tone from the start, which wasn’t frantic, but in which he and Kagiso Rapulana built steadily and took advantage when the Titans strayed.
Hendricks’ driving was beautiful, and he came out on top in a thunderous mini-battle with Junior Dala, who peppered the body with short balls.
Once Hendricks had grown accustomed to the pace, he played with authority off the back foot, striking some delicious pulls.
His opening stand with Rapulana was worth 96 in 14 overs, and then he added 89 for the second wicket with Bavuma as the Lions went about the chase of a substantial total with little fuss.
Such was Hendricks’ control that his dismissal came as a shock. He lazily chipped Farhaan Behardien to long-on after scoring 95 (90 balls, 12×4, 1×6), the end not in keeping with the quality of the innings.
CENTURY BAVUMA 🔥🏏
Captain Temba Bavuma brings up his 3rd list- A Century and his FIRST #MODC Century.
A real captains innings to bring the #LionsCharge e to victory.
— Lions Cricket (@LionsCricketSA) February 27, 2019
Earlier, Dean Elgar gave himself a much needed lift in confidence in the only place it’s possible for a batsman to do so – at the crease.
After a difficult couple of weeks, with his spot in the Test side being called into question, Elgar played superbly to dig the Titans out of trouble as they reached 309/7.
It wasn’t easy initially. He arrived with the Titans on 3/2 in the third over, lost Theunis de Bruyn in the 10th over and Heino Kuhn in the next to leave the visitors on 38/4.
Elgar thrives in such situations, although his form this season made it an even bigger challenge on Wednesday.
And early on, he was reminded of his struggles against Sri Lanka’s left-arm seamer Vishwa Fernando – who dismissed him three times in the two Tests – when the Lions’ left-arm quick Nandré Burger beat the outside edge of his bat twice while bowling a maiden to Elgar in the fourth over.
But the Proteas Test opener – batting at No 4 – hung tough, found a solid partner in Titans skipper Heinrich Klaasen, and then turned the flow of the innings in the Titans’ favour.
Elgar took advantage against the seamers, who adopted straighter lines, having peppered the area outside his off-stump in the early stages of the innings.
MILESTONE: Dean Elgar gets his ton! The left-hander punches it to deep cover for 4 to bring up 102 runs. His century is made up of nine 4’s & three 6’s. His played a big role in resurrecting our innings.
— The Titans (@Titans_Cricket) February 27, 2019
Elgar found real momentum, however, against Lions spinners Bjorn Fortuin and Aaron Phangiso, punishing them straight down the ground, along the ground and through the air.
Klaasen was more circumspect and willing to turn the strike over, and as Elgar gradually asserted himself, it was the right plan from the Titans skipper.
Together they added 202 for fifth wicket, a new record providing the perfect foundation for an all-out assault in the last 10 overs.
Elgar notched up a career-best 137 (121 balls, 10×4, 6×6), his sixth limited-overs hundred, the majority of which have come in England on the county circuit.
Klaasen made 82 (105 balls, 8×4, 1×6) – a more watchful innings, but invaluable nonetheless, given the circumstances that confronted him when he arrived at the crease.
Elgar brought up his highest List A score – 1️⃣3️⃣7️⃣
Elgar & Klaasen featured in the highest 5th wicket stand in the #MODC – 2️⃣0️⃣2️⃣runs.
Morris brought up the fastest MODC fifty – 2️⃣0️⃣balls.
Morris also brought up his maiden MODC 5️⃣0️⃣ pic.twitter.com/YCuBxTVnov
— Cricket South Africa (@OfficialCSA) February 27, 2019
As a result of that partnership, the Titans could explode in the last 10 overs, despite the fact that they lost Elgar, Klaasen and Farhaan Behardien in the space of nine balls.
Chris Morris produced another bruising finishing job, illustrating why he really should remain an option for the World Cup, as he bashed 51 off 20 balls (3×4, 5×6).
As was the case against the Dolphins and the Cobras, the Lions struggled with their ‘death bowling’, conceding 117 runs in the last 10 overs.
Burger was the best of the bowlers picking up 1/50, while Wiaan Mulder, after starting well, copped a lot of punishment at the end, going for 63 runs in his 10 overs, having picked up Klaasen’s wicket.