BEURAN HENDRICKS set the standard on his return to the Standard Bank Proteas T20 side to spearhead a superb bowling performance that put them on the road to a famous nine-wicket victory with 19 balls to spare and a share of the T20 International series against India at Bangaluru on Sunday.
The victory was as one-sided as the final margin suggested and represents a tremendous achievement for the new leadership team of Interim Team Director Enoch Nkwe and Interim captain Quinton de Kock and the rest of the players and technical staff.
What was particularly impressive was the fact that Nkwe, De Kock and company have shown themselves to be quick learners. It was to be seen not only in the skills of the bowlers but also the manner in which De Kock deployed them.
He used five different bowlers in the six-over power play and one-over spells became the rule rather than the exception throughout the innings after India had won the toss.
Hendricks came into the side in place of Anrich Nortje in the only change to the team and bowled a superb two-over spell of 1/7 with 8 dot balls in the power play and went on to finish with 2/14 in 4 which almost matched his career best 4/14 against Pakistan earlier this year.
He has been on the fringe of the team in all formats for too long and, being left-handed, offers an important option to the Proteas both in white-ball and red-ball cricket.
Kagiso Rabada started with three wide deliveries that cost 7 runs to go for 17 runs in his first over but recovered well to respond with 3/22 from his remaining three overs.
Particularly pleasing was the form of the two spinners with Tabraiz Shamsi, after being hit for sixes off his first two deliveries, coming back strongly to take 1/23 in 4 with 12 dot balls. Bjorn Fortuin in his second match finished with 2/19 from three.
If the speed with which an inexperienced bowling line-up has learned important lessons is a huge plus so is the way that De Kock has relished the responsibility of taking over the captaincy. His unbeaten 79 off 52 balls (5 sixes and 6 fours) gave him an aggregate of 131 runs for once out with a strike rate of 148.86 and included an opening partnership of 76 off 63 balls with Reeza Hendricks.
By the time he hit his third six in the ninth over the match was finished as contest as the required run rate had dropped to less than a run a ball with all 10 wickets still in hand. He also chalked up his 1 000th run in T20I cricket.
Temba Bavuma was another to show how he has grown in confidence and adapted his game plan to the shortest format with his 27 (23 balls, two fours and a six). It must have given him cause for enormous satisfaction as he finished the match with his six.
Beuran Hendricks was named Man of the Match and De Kock Man of the Series.
The Proteas now move on to the three-match Test series starting on October 2 in confident mood following their move up to No. 3 in the ICC T20I standings.