Hendricks and Mulder smash Lions to T20 Challenge title

28 April 2024 - 17:55
By Stuart Hess at the Wanderers
Reeza Hendricks top scored for the Lions in their seven-wicket win in the T20 Challenge final against the Dolphins at the Wanderers on Sunday.
Image: Richard Huggard/Gallo Images Reeza Hendricks top scored for the Lions in their seven-wicket win in the T20 Challenge final against the Dolphins at the Wanderers on Sunday.

Reeza Hendricks played the perfect T20 anchor role and Wiaan Mulder provided the pizazz as the Lions claimed their second title this season and in the process asserted themselves as the country’s top provincial union. 

Hendricks finished with an unbeaten 73 off 52 balls while Mulder smoked a six over point to claim a seven-wicket win against the gutsy Dolphins at the Wanderers with 20 balls to secure the CSA T20 Challenge, alongside the Four-Day Series title they won earlier this season. 

Mulder crushed 55 not out off 26 balls, an innings that ripped the hope away from the Dolphins, who had fought superbly to make their target of 166 seem as big as possible. 

They had kept chipping away at the powerful Lions batting order, removing the dangerous Ryan Rickelton in the power play for 18, then Rassie van der Dussen, was clean bowled by Daryn Dupavillon for 6 and Temba Bavuma was out for 7, edging Andile Phehlukwayo to wicketkeeper Tshepo Dithole. 

At 83/3 in the 11th over, the Dolphins were buoyed, but the depth in this Lions team is the envy of every other provincial union in the country. 

Hendricks and Mulder stayed calm, running hard between the wickets, to keep the scoreboard ticking, before Mulder finished off the match with some stunning hitting. He was instrumental in taking 20 runs off the 16th over bowled by Eathan Bosch, which relaxed a reasonably good crowd that turned up the Wanderers on Sunday afternoon.

Hendricks, who must be a sure bet to be included in the Proteas squad for the T20 World Cup, struck four fours and three sixes in his innings, while Mulder, who would not be a bad option as an all-rounder hit two fours and four sixes. 

The Proteas World Cup squad will be named on Tuesday morning.

It had earlier been a painstaking affair for the Dolphins, who were asked to bat first, and couldn’t come to terms with two paced nature of the surface, nor the Lions’ clever utilisation of slower balls and cutters

Khaya Zondo, in his new role as opener, dabbed, glanced and slogged his way to 37 off 25 balls, but his creativity was the only assertiveness seen from a Dolphins batter in the first half of the innings. 

The power play yielded just 41 runs, with Bryce Parsons, playing his first match since suffering a serious knee injury when the two teams met in the round-robin phase, running himself out, while Bjorn Fortuin took the important wicket of JJ Smuts with the last ball of the sixth over.

It was only once Nqaba Peter was brought back to bowl the 18th over, that the Dolphins, through Jason Smith, gained some momentum. It was a gutsy decision by the Lions skipper Fortuin, but he’s been happy to take risks with Peter throughout this breakout competition for the 21 year old Leg-spinner. 

This was one occasion that it didn’t work. Peter, who had earlier trapped Zondo lbw, produced arguably the worst set of deliveries he sent down in the tournament, conceding 24 runs, with Smith smashing four fours and a six. Peter missed both his line — there were too many leg side deliveries — and his length — attempting to bowl yorkers. 

From looking like they would struggle to reach 150, the Dolphins suddenly had a total exceeding 160, with Smith primarily responsible thanks to an innings of 51 off 33 balls that included a six and five fours. 

Once again Codi Yusuf was superb finishing with 2/17 including a final over in which he went for just six runs.