Mahela Jayawardene smashed 116 off just 56 balls    Getty Images
Mahela Jayawardene smashed 116 off just 56 balls Getty Images

The ongoing Super Smash Twenty20 (T20) tournament in New Zealand witnessed a record-breaking game, where both side scored 240 plus totals. This exciting contest was played between Central Stags and Otago Volts at Pukekura Park in New Plymouth. A total of 497 runs were scored in this one-run thriller, which is the highest aggregate of runs in T20, beating previous record of 489 runs between India and West Indies at Lauderhill, earlier this year. Otago, who won the toss, opted to bat first against the Will Young-led Central Stags. Otago openers, Anaru Kitchen and skipper Hamish Rutherford got the side off to an excellent start, putting up 130-run partnership for the 1st wicket.

Kitchen was dismissed after his 33-ball 54, which included three boundaries and five sixes. His stumps were knocked off by left-arm spinner Marty Kain. The duo plundered 100 runs in just 8.2 overs and both completed their fifties off 25 deliveries. From there on, Neil Broom joined the party with Rutherford and banged with 67 runs together in next five overs. It took only 21 balls more for next 50 runs to complete Rutherford his maiden T20 century. He got out on 106 while trying for another maximum over long-on off Seth Rance bowling. In his knock of 106 runs, Rutherford smacked 9 boundaries and 8 sixes.

Further, Broom took the charge, while Jimmy Neesham from the other end could score only 18 from 11 before departing. In the final over of the innings, Broom remained unbeaten at 42 off 24, while Michael Bracewell struck a four and two sixes from those final three balls he faced and ensured his side’s total of 249. The total of 249 is the highest in a T20 match in New Zealand and seventh overall.

Despite taking two big wickets, Rance conceded 54 from his spell of four overs but the most runs leaked by Ryan McCone, who gave away 57 runs from four overs.

Coming to chase, which was nearly impossible but it seemed like either they watched India’s innings against West Indies or South Africa’s batting against Australia in an ODI in 2006, before going out to bat. Unlike Otago, both of Central Stags’ openers were international cricketer George Worker and Mahela Jayawardene. The duo began the innings in the similar by showing no mercy to the opponents bowlers and put up 50 runs in just four overs. The partnership went on till 72 after Worker was dismissed for 35 off Neesham’s bowling. Skipper Young could not stay for long after the fall of first wicket as he got out for 16.

At that stage, Central Stags were 105 for two from 9.1 overs and Otago were looking to bounce back into the game but Mahela and Tom Bruce clobbered away to a 124-run stand in only nine overs and in between Mahela had scored his third T20 hundred. The partnership ended at 229 in 18.1 overs with Mahela departing for 116 from 56, including 12 fours and seven sixes.

From here, Central Stags needed 21 more from 11 balls, which seemed possible with Bruce keeping the battle on from the other end. Bruce completed his fifty from 22 balls. A six on the final ball of the penultimate over by Bruce along with a no ball and a wide helped Central Stags turned the table with 10 needed from final over now.

Neil Wagner was trusted to bowl the final over to defend 10 runs against Bruce and Dane Cleaver. Wagner tried his best but conceded 8 from fist five. Now the equation was 2 off 1. One can imagine the intensity and pressure over both Wagner and Bruce.

Everything was on the cards for both the sides. Victory, defeat or super over. Wagner somehow managed to pull things in Otago’s favour by giving away only single and running out Cleaver, while he was taking the second. Otago players ended up celebrating madly after the thriller.

Skipper Rutherford went on full praise for Wagner’s bowling. “Wags has been sensational in the death throughout this whole campaign so to have him bowl that over was exciting. I just said to him, ‘Mate, come on, this is what you play cricket for’. And as Neil usually is, he was absolutely fizzing for it. Once it got down to that last ball, it took a while to understand what we were going to do and we thought about maybe a Super Over but to walk away with an actual victory at that point was amazing,” Rutherford told ESPNCricinfo.

No doubt, that this was truly an entertaining contest and surely it will be remembered for long.

“I’m sure it’s something everyone will remember for a long time. These moments really come crucial towards the end of the tournament, you remember those moments, those games, those tight finishes so that will put is in good stead moving forward,” Rutherford added.

Brief Scores:

Otago Volts 249 for 3 [Hamish Rutherford 106 (50), Anaru Kitchen 54 (33), Neil Broom 42 (24), Seth Rance 4-0-54-2, Marty Kain 3-0-41-1] beat Central Stags 248 for 4 [Mahela Jayawardene 116 (56), Tom Bruce 61 (29); Jimmy Neesham 4-0-37-2, Bradley Scott 4-0-53-1]