Pretoria - Proteas batsmen Quinton de Kock has thrilled the festive crowd at the Mamelodi Oval as his century took the Highveld Lions to 260 for nine in the 50-over eKasi Challenge against the Titans on Friday.
While the 20-year-old has struggled to produce the goods on the international stage, De Kock continued his dominance from last season at domestic level, scoring an impressive 104 off 112 balls.
The innings was marked by a relaxed, composed start to his knock as he assessed the conditions carefully. He took his time in establishing control on a township pitch which offered good bounce for the bowlers but was productive for batsmen who were willing to be patient.
De Kock went on to plunder nine fours and two sixes in a fine display in front of a few hundred spectators in the inaugural edition of the pre-season challenge between the Gauteng neighbours.
He shrugged off the miseries of the Sri Lankan tour and cruised to his century off 107 balls. After eventually holing out at cow corner, off left-arm spinner Roelof van der Merwe, the Lions innings lost its way in the closing overs.
The Johannesburg side were sent in to bat on an overcast morning and captain Stephen Cook scored 51 off 74 balls. He and De Kock laid the perfect platform with an opening stand of 104 off 136 balls.
Rassie van der Dussen and the wicketkeeper/batsman added another 102 off 121 balls for the second wicket.
Van der Dussen scored 43 off 67 balls before paying the price for going after a bouncer from JP de Villiers and being given was out caught behind.
The Lions were still extremely well-placed on 206 for two in the 42nd over, before they lost De Kock two overs later.
Gulam Bodi survived a clatter of wickets to score 35 off 21 balls. When he was caught at long-on off Rowan Richards, the left-arm seamer was left on a hat-trick in the 49th over.
Cliffe Deacon survived the hat-trick ball but was caught on the boundary in the final over as Ethy Mbhalati also found himself on a hat-trick, without converting.
Mbhalati finished with three for 33 in eight overs to lead the way for the Titans bowlers, who fought back well to peg the Lions to a handy but obtainable target.