Trent Boult has hit a six off the final ball of the match to lead the Northern Brave to an unbelievable one-wicket Super Smash win over the Canterbury Kings in Mt Maunganui on Thursday night.
In one of the craziest games of Twenty20 cricket you will ever see, the Black Caps bowling spearhead, on his home turf at Bay Oval, came up trumps to drag the hosts out of the mire in their chase for just 108.
After Canterbury looked like pulling off a sensational upset as Brave batters crumbled under mounting pressure, six runs were needed off the final ball from Ed Nuttall, only for the left-arm seamer to drop it in the slot for Boult to tee off huge over mid-wicket.
As the moment sank in, the hometown hero gave a wee fist pump then raised the bat, in what is likely to be his last appearance in domestic colours before he turns out for national duty again.
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Never in doubt, he might tell his Brave mates, who, with a third win on the trot have gone top of the table, but had been reduced to nervous wrecks in the changing room as they watched one another make an absolute meal of their small run chase.
They had sped out of the blocks thanks to a stunning display of hitting from an injured Katene Clarke and the match looked as good as done.
After copping a Nuttall ball to the hip, Clarke sent the next for four, then, unable to run, smashed all of the next four over the rope on the leg-side in an amazing 29-run over.
Dropped by Canterbury skipper McConchie first ball of the next over, Clarke then proceeded to walk off anyway, retired hurt, but who could have even imagined he would be required to bat again.
The Brave had been bogged down by the pressure of canny spinners Blake Coburn (2-16 off four) and Todd Astle (1-8 off four), while Matt Henry also took 1-8 off four, and the run rate just kept mounting, and wickets also kept tumbling.
Tim Seifert (15 off 17) was uncharacteristically slow then runout in a bad call from Joe Carter, who looked set to play an anchor role but turned it into an ugly-reading 13 off 30, while the usually big-hitting Brett Hampton mustered 11 off 17.
In the end, eight were required off the final over with four wickets in hand, but when Anurag Verma found a leaping Henry on the boundary off the first delivery then next ball Ish Sodhi skied out, it was all on, as Clarke hurriedly got the pads back on.
Boult got a single then Joe Walker holed out, leaving Nuttall bowling to that nemesis Clarke with seven needed off two, and while Clarke could only carve out a single, Boult of course did all the rest.
Earlier, the Brave had done so well with the ball to skittle last season’s runners-up for just 107 – their second-equal-lowest T20 total – in 17.2 overs.
Black Caps test batter Henry Nicholls made an immediate impact on return for the red and blacks, but his 35 (off 21 balls) was in the end 20 more than any of his team-mates could produce.
Boult, Sodhi and Verma took two wickets apiece, but off-spinner Walker was the pick of the bowlers, claiming a superb 3-13 off his four overs.
In what had been a rollercoaster week for the 29-year-old – claiming a career-best 4-31 last Friday against the Aces then missing the re-match three days later due to illness and self-isolating Covid-19 protocols, the cousin of Mitchell Santner put in another match-winning display with the ball through the middle.
He was helped on his way by a screamer of a catch in his first over, when McConchie reverse swept and a running-back Verma pulled in a one-handed stunner.
Very next ball Walker then trapped Cam Fletcher in front with a flat one which ripped sharply, and while Astle blocked the hat-trick delivery, he fell to a top-edge sweep in Walker’s next and Canterbury were in all sorts.
Earlier, Boult had smartly knocked the top off with wickets in his first two overs. After Ken McClure had hooked him for six, he had him out hooking again there three balls later when Scott Kuggeleijn took a fine catch, then Chad Bowes tried to cut too close to his body and nicked behind.
Nicholls came in and looked sharp in hitting three fours and two sixes, but when he sliced Sodhi to Brave captain Jeet Raval it was 55-4 and the slide had begun.
At Bay Oval, Mt Maunganui: Canterbury Kings 107 (Henry Nicholls 35 off 21; Joe Walker 3-13 off 4, Trent Boult 2-21 off 3, Ish Sodhi 2-22 off 4, Anurag Verma 2-26 off 3.2) lost to Northern Brave 108-9 (Katene Clarke 32no off 12; Ed Nuttall 3-43 off 4, Blake Coburn 2-16 off 4) by 1 wicket.
Batting MVP: Trent Boult (Brave)
Bowling MVP: Joe Walker (Brave)