Neesham denies Lions in a nail-biter

Volts edge out Lions in one-over eliminator.

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Ton in vain: Quinton de KockJAIPUR: Even a Super Over almost failed to separate the teams in a match that swung around like a cuckold’s fantasy. But after 42 overs of high drama Otago Volts kept their phenomenal Twenty20 winning streak by edging out the valiant Highveld Lions by one run, via the one-over eliminator.  At the Sawai Mansingh Stadium on Sunday, there were two principals around whom the drama was staged, and right to the end it they remained in the spotlight.

First to the victor, and it was young all-rounder Jimmy Neesham who brought the Volts back into their chase of 167, with a swashbuckling 25-ball 52. He cracked five sixes, including one in the last over of the pursuit, bowled by Sohail Tanvir, that brought about a tie. Neesham then took the ball when Lions took strike in the one-over eliminator and held his nerve to prevent first innings centurion Quinton de Kock from getting 14 – this after de Kock had taken six and four off the first two deliveries.

It would have bee some recompense for de Kock that he had made his second Twenty20 ton when Lions were sent in, a time that now appeared smothered in a deep recess in time. His 63-ball 109 propped Lions up to 167/4, a target that Volts looked nowhere near getting halfway into their chase.

The New Zealanders needed 50 to win off the last four overs when Neesham swung the contest with his mad half-century, making up for the failures of an array of attacking batsmen led by the dangerous Brendon McCullum. The pendulum swings in Volts’ innings were not very different from the ebbs and flows when Lions had batted.

At 73/3 in 12 overs, the South African team seemed destined for a par total. de Kock, however, had other ideas. The wicketkeeper/batsman plundered 67 off the last 27 deliveries he faced. His fourth-wicket union with Symes yielded seventy-six in just 6.1 overs, as de Kock reached his century in the last over, only to be outdone by Neesham when it mattered most.