Pretoria - National player Quinton de Kock thrilled the festive crowd at the Mamelodi Oval as his century led the Highveld Lions to a thumping 127-run victory over the Titans in the eKasi Challenge on Friday.
While the 20-year-old had 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 as the Lions posted 260 for nine in their 50 overs.
The Titans' reply was rocked by two wickets in the third over as the impressive Hardus Viljoen bowled both Henry Davids (6) and Roelof van der Merwe (0).
Heino Kuhn and Farhaan Behardien then provided some resistance as they added 80 for the third wicket off 96 balls.
But, just as the Titans' run-chase was starting to simmer in promising fashion, left-arm spinner Aaron Phangiso removed both batsmen in successive overs.
Behardien was stumped for 35, while Kuhn was bowled by a quicker delivery, having scored 45 off 54 balls.
The rest of the innings was a sorry procession as the batsmen followed each other sheep-like back into the clubhouse, with the Titans losing their last eight wickets for 40 runs.
There was not much wear on the pitch, but Phangiso and fellow spinner Jean Symes took four wickets each to destroy the Titans, bowling them out for 133 in just 31 overs.
De Kock's innings was marked by a relaxed, composed start to his knock as he assessed the conditions carefully. He went on to plunder nine fours and two sixes in a fine display 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 their 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, and finished with three for 33 in eight overs.