Central Stags fell agonisingly short of pulling off one of the most remarkable run chases in the history of T20 cricket against Otago Volts but the game nevertheless entered into the record books after seeing the highest aggregate of runs scored in a T20 match.
Chasing an improbable target of 250, the Stags fell short by a solitary run as they finished their innings on 248 for 4. Stags needed eight runs off the last over and two off the final ball but Dane Cleaver was run-out when trying to steal a single, handing Volts the victory.
Earlier, Hamish Rutherford scored 106 off only 50 balls to propel Volts to a huge total. However, his monumental knock, at one stage, was not looking good enough to ensure a win for his team as former Sri Lanka batsman Mahela Jayawardene struck a 48-ball ton to keep the Stags in the hunt. Jayawardene remained on the pitch till the penultimate over and scored 116 off only 56 balls. Stags still needed 21 off 11 balls when the Sri Lankan great was dismissed but Tom Bruce kept the fight alive with a quickfire fifty. However, Neil Wagner defended eight runs off the final over to break Stags’ hearts.
Lauding Wagner’s effort, Rutherford said:“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 also praised Jayawardene’s innings. He said:“I guess you look back and say he gave us two chances and unfortunately we put them down.I’m not sure where that would have ended up if they were taken. But again you can’t put it away from him, it was a quality innings – untroubled, he hit some nice shots in nice areas and didn’t try and manipulate too much.”
The batsman also expected the game to be remembered for a long time.
“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 concluded.