Nono Pongolo turned in a brilliant all-round display to drag Hambledon to an extraordinary two-run win over Fawley in Southern Electric Premier League division one.
The Dons’ overseas all-rounder from Cape Town, South Africa blasted a superb 102 not out, picked up two for 38 and claimed three catches – including a brilliant diving effort in the last over – to fire his side to victory.
The 25-year-old is no stranger to the region, having also spent a season with Ventnor.
He was unable to reach three figures during his time with the Islanders.
But he did it in style at Ridge Meadow on Saturday, hitting 11 fours in 107 balls and sharing a record-breaking partnership with Kyle Shinn (60 not out) that hauled Hambledon from their precarious position of 90 for seven to 231 for eight.
That unbroken stand of 141 was a new high for the eighth wicket in division one – ironically ousting current Dons skipper Ian Turner’s 128-partnership with Derek Kenway back in 2001 against Easton & Martyr Worthy.
It was also a maiden league ton for Pongolo as he achieved one of his targets for the campaign.
He said: ‘I was quite happy. I’ve been putting myself under pressure but I wanted to score a century quite early to get it out of the way.
‘To finally get it, was a good feeling – especially in the situation we were in.
‘I’d been speaking to my coach back home because I was getting frustrated at twice getting to 50 and then not going on from there.
‘He told me to break my innings down to 10 runs at a time and I was thinking of small milestones.
‘When myself and Kyle got together, we were just aiming to bat the 50 overs.
‘But it ended up being a good partnership that got us into a good position. It’s nice to have a record.’
Hambledon then looked in control of the game until a late flurry from Fawley gave themselves an outside chance.
Joe Collings-Wells was asked to bowl the final over with the visitors needing 18 to win.
Pongolo said: ‘It was a game we had all the way but all of a sudden, it looked like we were going to lose it.
‘We were missing Dan Hewitt, so it crept up on us because we had to rely on young guys who generally don’t bowl in that situation.
‘Luckily, we just managed to get over the line.
‘One of their late-order batters hit the first ball for six just over me and I was thinking “here we go”.
‘But then he went for another one, I could see it wasn’t going for six but I wasn’t sure whether to go for it or just allow him to get one run.
‘I knew if I went for it, I had to get him out. Luckily the risk paid off and I managed to get my hands under it and it stuck.’
Pongolo added: ‘We were asking ourselves afterwards “did we almost lose that game?”
‘You will take the win any day and it’s great to get back-to-back wins for the first time this season.’
Elsewhere in division one, Sarisbury Athletic eased to a 68-run success over Liphook & Ripsley.
Pete Hammond (83) and skipper David Banks (53) led the way as Sarisbury reached 267 for seven.
Kieran Geyle then picked up a five-wicket haul (five for 49) and a miserly spell from Dan Goldstraw (two for 15) killed Liphook’s hopes.