Author : Ritabrata Banerjee
James Neesham – the man of the moment for Otago Volts
Otago Volts won the most closely contested T20 match ever in the format’s history when they defeated Highveld Lions in the Super Over at Jaipur in the Champions League T20.
Quinton de Kock became the 2nd South African batsman to hit a century in T20 cricket when he smashed 109 off just 63 deliveries, with Lions ending at 167 at the end of 20 overs.
Riding on James Neesham’s 52 off 25 balls and valuable contributions from Hamish Rutherford and Derek de Boorder, Otago Volts reached the same score, after Sohail Tanvir bowled an excellent last over despite conceding a six off the first ball and with a bye off the last delivery, the match was tied.
The Super Over saw Tanvir return with the same dexterity with the ball and conceded only 7 runs off the first 5 deliveries. Brendon McCullum came down the track and converted the last ball into a full toss, hitting it over long-off for a six, giving Otago Volts something to bowl at.
It was James Neesham’s day without a doubt, and despite having conceded 28 off his 3 overs earlier in the match, McCullum entrusted the right-arm medium pace bowler with the job of bowling the final over of the match.
The decision seemed to have misfired immediately as Quinton de Kock dispatched the first two deliveries for a four and a six. Lions needed just 4 runs off the last 4 deliveries, and the match looked to be out of Otago’s grasp.
However, the next delivery conceded only a single. The penultimate delivery of the over was slogged quite mindlessly by Jean Symes, and the catch was safely pouched by the skipper at mid-off.
Lions needed 2 runs off the last delivery to win the match, the exact equation which was presented to Otago Volts almost half an hour ago.
James Neesham bowled a full toss which was hit firmly by Dwaine Pretorius, but straight to the man on the leg side boundary. The batsmen ran a single, but in a moment of brain-freeze, de Kock seemed hesitant at completing the second run. Some confusion in the middle left Pretorius out of the crease, and James Neesham was cool enough to collect the balls and remove the bails.
The scores were tied in the Super Over, but Otago had scored 19 boundaries (12 fours, 7 sixes) in their 20 overs, while Lions had managed 18 (11 fours, 7 sixes), and that being the differentiating factor in the case of a tied Super Over, Otago won the match, all due to that one extra hit to the boundary rope.
Otago are now at the top of the group table, with 2 wins from 3 matches and a huge Net Run Rate of +1.550.