“Hendricks confronted the spinners very well and showed good technique”
A debutant is under tremendous pressure, he has to justify his selection and make an immediate impact. It is often said; the first impression is the last impression. In cricket, it might not stand true, but certainly holds massive importance. No words can define the kind of pressure and stress a debutant goes through; he has a lot of things on his plate and ample of responsibilities to shoulder. Very few manage to absorb the pressure and make an impact in their maiden outing.
On Sunday, Sri Lanka locked horns with South Africa in the third ODI of the five-match series. The home side was fighting for survival while South Africa had a golden chance of sealing it with just another win, they were leading the series 2-0 already. The onus of making a comeback was on the home side, which gave South Africa the liberty to tinker with their playing combination.
Reeza Hendricks had been knocking the doors for a while; South Africa decided to give him a chance to showcase his talent in this encounter. He debuted in this game and hogged all the headlines with a scintillating ton while batting first. Before this ODI, Hendricks only featured in 12 T20I games for South Africa, he was yet to play any longer format game. He had a healthy record in the First-Class and List A games and one could have expected him to get a nod in the longer format anytime.
Sri Lanka won the toss and opted to field first. After a brisk start, South Africa lost Quinton de Kock for the score of 42, in came Reeza Hendricks at a crucial position of three and set the stage on fire. He had to keep up with the tempo and get the scoreboard ticking. The surface was conducive for batting unlike the last two games and South Africa needed a big total under their belt to put Sri Lanka on the back foot.
Amla was scoring at a brisk pace at one end and needed support from the other, which was rightly provided by Hendricks. The latter played with immense confidence and showed nerves of steel. He didn’t waste any time and got the ball rolling from the outset. He survived an edge of Suranga Lakmal that didn’t carry to the slip cordon.
Hendricks confronted the spinners very well and showed good technique. Along with JP Duminy, Hendricks accounted for an entertaining 78-run stand. This was the most amusing partnership of the match as it was packed with action. In no time, Hendricks recorded his maiden ton and looked good for more quick runs, but it wasn’t to be. Lahiru Kumara got the better of him on 102 and ended his dream run on debut.
Hendricks was picked ahead of Aiden Markram, and justified his selection with the fastest ton by a debutant, which came off just 88 deliveries. South Africa’s total of 363/7 in 50 overs is also the highest ODI total on the Sri Lankan island and the tone was rightly set by Hendricks.
Hendricks spoke about his inclusion in the team and was delighted to get a nod in this South African line-up. He was quoted in a report from ESPNCricinfo saying, “I was very happy to make my debut today, and most importantly, contribute for my team. It’s quite difficult to break through into this South Africa side, so I was quite fortunate today and I managed to score some runs.”
Faf du Plessis praised Hendricks’ efforts on debut and said, “To see someone play like that on debut was remarkable, and that’s the great thing about our batting line-up. We have guys putting their hands up every game, and putting match-winning performances. It’s about giving guys opportunities. We will try and do the same in the next two matches as well.”
South Africa won the game convincingly and sealed the series. They now stand a golden chance to script a whitewash. Hendricks’ maiden ton has raised the bar, the pressure of performing consistently will be on him. It will be interesting to see how he fares in the two upcoming games. His success will certainly provide a much-needed cushion to the South African batting. With World Cup being just a few months away, South Africa need to identify their primary batting line-up and performances like these will only tighten the race.