Ndhovu holds steady for Inland against Free State assault

2014-10-30 00:00

FOR Mamelodi-raised Abram Ndhlovu, the road to cricketing success has not been easy. Yet this past weekend the man who is built like a boxer fended off the fury of a potent Free State pace attack at the Maritzburg Oval to help save his side from certain defeat in the Sunfoil Three-Day Cup match.

Inland had been on the receiving end of slow torture at the hands of the strong Free State batting line-up. It was a remorseless approach to batting and the Bloemfontein lads ground out a mammoth 406 for six declared.

The Inland attack was unlucky in that numerous nick-offs went just wide of the waiting cordon or dropped just short and a total that on another day might have been 220 ended plus 400. In reply, Inland opener Ndhlovu got a vicious lifter into the upper ribcage off the sixth ball he faced and much to his annoyance was caught at short leg for just one run off a rampant Duanne Olivier,.

The Free State frontline have all played franchise cricket and Inland were decimated for just 68 and forced to follow-on on the second afternoon. Launching an all-out assault on the shellshocked Inland batters in a bid to win by a landslide innings and something runs, Free State hurled everything at Ndhlovu and his fellow batters once again. But the rock that is the right-handed Mamelodi lad repelled, deflected, glanced, drove, hooked and cut, bobbed and weaved to finish undefeated on 126 after seven-and-a-half hours and 50 overs’ worth of bowling that he personally faced at the crease to pull off a well-earned draw. This was along with plenty of help from fellow batters and team-mates Mbasa Gqadushe, SJ Erwee, Suhail Razack and captain Shane Burger.

Inland ended on 280 for five and the high work ethic, very courageous batter with fighting qualities that is Ndhlovu had stood tall and unbowed throughout.

It was the quietly-spoken Ndhlovu’s second first-class century, his first was for the Pretoria-based Northerns, but it was clearly his most cherished.

“It is one of the best bowling attacks I have faced,” the 28-year-old told The Witness yesterday. “I was annoyed that I had taken my bottom hand off the grip and popped up that catch off Olivier instead of keeping the ball down in the first innings and was determined not to make the same mistake again.”

The right-hander told himself he could not do worse than one solitary run in the second dig and set goals to take himself through each session of play.

“I also had huge confidence in my team-mates and that made things a lot easier to know that I had good batting partners to rely on. We all knew deep down that we could still save the game. There is also the guidance you get from guys like Immy [Imraan Khan] who has played for many years at top level and it rubs off on you.”

Ndhlovu, who played two seasons in England, but quite enjoys coaching young kids when he gets the chance, says the vibe in the KZN Inland camp played a big role in the side winning two national trophies last season. It was an unprecedented success for the KZN Inland Cricket Union who operate on a much smaller budget than their opposing teams in the Provincial Challenge competitions.

“My hundred against Free State is a personal highlight while as a team highlight the Provincial T20 Challenge and the Provincial 50-over Challenge trophies last season were just amazing, it was very special.

“Taking into account the situation of the game when I made that hundred and looking at how we were considered outsiders before winning those two trophies, it makes all the blood, sweat and tears, the disappointments, the ups and downs, so worthwhile.

“Let’s hope this season we can make it three trophies and win all three competitions,” he added.

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