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Hendricks, Christian power Jozi Stars to second place

Chris Gayle had warned before this game that it was Reeza Hendricks, rather than Gayle himself, who posed the most formidable threat to Cape Town Blitz, and Hendricks proved him right with his fourth successive score of fifty or more in the Mzansi Super League.

After his 55 against Tshwane Spartans last week and back-to-back hundreds against Durban Heat and Nelson Mandela Bay Giants, Hendricks blazed his way to a 48-ball 79 to set up Jozi Stars’ dominant 196 for 4. Dan Christian then backed up Kagiso Rabada’s accuracy with the new ball to collect 4 for 22 in a massive 50-run win that took Stars to second on the tournament table with a bonus point, with Duanne Olivier also chipping in with 3 for 38.

Stars lost Gayle to a travel-weary chip to mid-on off Nandre Burger in the fourth over and Blitz worked up considerable pressure in the early exchanges. Steyn did as Steyn does with the new ball, and Burger too impressed in his first outing for Blitz, having come into the side to replace Anrich Nortje. But Hendricks and Rassie van der Dussen combined to take 18 off Andile Phehlukwayo’s first over, taking the rate above a run a ball for the first time in the sixth over.

Hendricks’ innings started as a slow burn, and as he had done against Heat and Giants, he showed just how much time there is to build an innings in T20 cricket, provided one can shift swiftly through the gears. Hendricks’ strike rate was hovering just over a run a ball at the ten-over mark, but he hit six sixes in the next five overs and was joined in the fray by van der Dussen, who swiped a six and a four in Burger’s comeback over later in the innings.

It seemed Hendricks was set for a third ton, having raced to a 40-ball fifty before he went on the charge, ruining Phehlukwayo, Steyn and Mohammad Nawaz’ figures in a flurry of boundary-hitting. He fell attempting a seventh six off Malusi Siboto in the 16th over, and van der Dussen soon followed him to the dugout. But Christian, Pite van Biljon and Dane Vilas kept the momentum going with the bat.

Christian and van Biljon kept their strike rates well over 200, while van Biljon combined with Vilas to pillage 25 off the last over of the innings, bowled by Malusi Siboto. Stars made 132 off the last ten overs, Hendricks masterminding what turned out to be an almost perfectly paced T20 innings.

Needing close to 10 an over from the start of their chase, Blitz wanted a rapid start, but Rabada gave up just a single in his first over, very nearly removing de Kock with his fifth delivery after stringing together four dots. De Kock survived a strong appeal for a catch down the leg side in Beuran Hendricks’ first over, and he eventually holed out to Nono Pongolo in the deep for a scratchy 15-ball nine.

At the other end, Janneman Malan collected five boundaries in the Powerplay with some crisp hitting but lost his timing as the pitch slowed down in the evening, while his namesake Dawid got going with two boundaries in the first over he faced from Olivier but was soon caught in the deep off Christian.

Rabada’s accuracy, ably backed up by Pongolo and Christian, kept Blitz behind the asking rate throughout. The hosts were further set back by regular wickets, with Farhaan Behardien and Asif Ali falling in consecutive overs without having made much impact on the run rate. With the required rate rocketing above 20, Janneman swiped across the line to be pinned lbw by Christian for 43, and Blitz quickly folded.

Christian removed Phehlukwayo and Mohammad Nawaz with successive deliveries and came within a couple of millimetres of a hat-trick when he completely deceived Steyn with a canny slower ball in the 18th over. In the very next over, it was Olivier’s turn. He bounced Kyle Verreynne out and then flattened Steyn’s middle stump with a yorker, but his attempt at a hat-trick went awry as he slipped the crucial delivery well down the leg side. It made no difference to the result, of course, and in the final over Pongolo had a reverse-lapping Siboto easily caught behind to end the match and secure a bonus point.

Liam Brickhill is a freelance journalist based in Cape Town