Nono Pongolo revealed Hambledon have gained a few temporary friends from Sarisbury Athletic after he led the Dons to a shock win at Southern Electric Premier League division one leaders New Milton.
The South African all-rounder hit 63 with the bat and then took four for 41 with the ball as the visitors grabbed a five-run win at the previously unbeaten New Forest outfit.
The result also breathed new life into the division one title challenge of Sarisbury, who thought their chances were over after they lost the top-of-the-table clash last week.
In a remarkable game, Hambledon posted 224 for nine and should have breezed to victory when they had New Milton reeling at 62 for seven.
But the New Milton tail wagged to such an extent that they looked favourites to win before Hambledon dug deep to earn a five-run win in the final over of a thrilling contest.
Pongolo said: ‘It was just another typical Dons game!
‘We were thinking we were in the box seat and would win it easily but suddenly we were under huge pressure.
‘It went all the way to the wire and we were just relieved to get the win.
‘Some of the Sarisbury players have contacted us to say “well done and thanks”.
‘They probably loved that result more than we did.
‘But we’re playing them this weekend so they might like us now but I think that will go out of the window pretty quickly.’
Sarisbury kept up the heat with a convincing seven-wicket success over Hursley Park, who were dismissed for just 90 as Dan Goldstraw (five for 17) ripped through their batting line-up.
But few predicted a Hambledon win, especially as they were bowled out for just 48 in the reverse fixture earlier this season.
Rob Atkins (70) laid the foundations and put on 80 in a productive fourth-wicket partnership with Pongolo.
But with New Milton struggling in their reply, number eight batsman Toby Edwards (80) appeared to have turned the tide back in the home side’s favour.
His efforts left Hambledon attempting to defend 10 runs from the final two overs.
Pongolo said: ‘It’s funny because if we had been offered that win before the game, we would have taken it straight away.
‘But then we posted 224 and had them at 62 for seven, so we wanted to smash them to send a message after what happened earlier in the season.
‘We wanted to do something similar to what they did to us.
‘But we didn’t respond well to a guy that rode his luck and did really well for them. A few heads went down.
‘In most cricket games, there will be a partnership at some stage. It’s just a matter of everyone hanging in there and staying together.
‘As soon as that partnership got going, you could see people thinking “here we go, we might lose this game”.
‘Then they needed 10 off the final two overs.
‘I felt the penultimate over was more important so I asked to bowl that one.
‘Luckily I did enough to give Dan Hewitt enough to defend.
‘But it was a really good last two overs from us as a team.
‘We scrambled well to get over the line.’