Mahela Jayawardene’s century went in vain as Neil Wagner defended eight runs in the last over of a record-breaking 497-run T20 match as Otago edged past Central Districts by just one run in a Super Smash clash at New Plymouth on Wednesday. The aggregate runs put up by the two sides is now the highest in a T20 match, going past the 489 put up by India and the West Indies at Lauderhill earlier this year.
Opting to bat first after winning the toss, Otago rode on the brilliance of captain Hamish Rutherford who scored 106 off 50 balls to set the tone. His innings, laced with nine fours and eight sixes, helped Otago reach the 100-mark in just 8.2 overs with the help of opener Anaru Kitchen’s 54 off 34 balls. Both Rutherford and Kitchen scored their individual half-centuries in just 25 balls.
Once Kitchen departed with 130 on the scoreboard after 11 overs, Neil Broom ensured the carnage continued in the middle as he scored an unbeaten 42 off just 24 balls. The two hammered 67 in the next five overs with Rutherford taking another 21 balls to reach his maiden T20 hundred. He fell in the last ball of the 16th over with Otago still three shy of 200. But quick-fire knocks from Jimmy Neesham (18 off 11 balls) and Michael Bracewell (16 off 3 balls) ensured they ended at 249/3 after 20 overs.
Coming out to bat with a required rate of 12.5 to chase down the total, Districts showed heart with George Worker and Jayawardene piling up 72 for the first wicket in just 35 balls. Worker fell at 35 with captain Will Young departing soon after. However, with 145 needed off 10.5 overs, the Sri Lankan veteran and Tom Bruce stepped on the gas as they made 124 in the next nine overs.
Jayawardene smashed seven sixes and 12 fours en route to his 116 — also his third T20 century — while Bruce was unbeaten at 61 off 29 deliveries. Jayawardene fell in the first ball of the 19th over with his team still 21 runs short of the target. However, with just two runs required off the last ball, Dane Cleaver, the only batsman with a strike rate of less than 100 in the match, was run out, thus handing Otaga a sensational one-run victory.
The win helped Otaga climb to the third spot and move within two points of second-placed Central Districts.