Jimmy Neesham had acquired a reputation as a big-hitter in the domestic Twenty20 circuit. Such was his ferocity of hitting that whenever he hit an aggressive knock, people would say, “Unleash the Neesh”. In the first ODI of 2019, Neesham provided magnificent fireworks in the first ODI against Sri Lanka at Mount Maunganui. Such was his devastating batting that had there been some more overs to spare, he would have broken the record for the fastest fifty ever in ODIs. However, his late-hitting blitz propelled New Zealand to a massive score of 371/6 as they looked to take a 1-0 series lead in the three-match series against Sri Lanka.
Martin Guptill’s blazing 14th century and Kane Williamson’s 76 helped New Zealand lay a solid foundation for a big score. Guptill became the fifth New Zealand player to go past 6000 runs and he also went past Brendon McCullum’s tally of runs to end up as the fourth highest run-getter for his side in the ODI format. Following Guptill’s dismissal, New Zealand looked to have their momentum stalled as some tight bowling by the Sri Lankans gave them hope that they could pull it back. Enter Jimmy Neesham and he changed the complexion of the game totally.
After taking three runs off two balls in Lasith Malinga’s final over, Neesham decided to go after Thisara Perera in the 49th over. Mount Maunganui witnessed carnage. The first ball was blasted over deep midwicket for the first six while the second ball was launched over long on for a second six. Neesham achieved a spectacular hat-trick by slicing a full ball down the ground for a third six. The fourth ball also disappeared into the grass banks again and it seemed Yuvraj Singh, Sir Garfield Sobers and Herschelle Gibbs would soon have company.
Perera felt then pressure and he bowled a waist-high full toss which was clobbered for a couple. The fifth legitimate ball was also mauled out of the ground and the 97-meter six landed on the roof of the long on stand. However, Perera finally nailed the yorker properly as Neesham managed just a single as 34 runs were hit in the 49th over. In the final over bowled by Nuwan Pradeep, Neesham hit a couple of braces before ending the innings in style with a glorious inside-out six over wide long off. His 47 off 13 balls helped New Zealand end on the ultimate high.
If Neesham had achieved six sixes in an over, he would have been the second batsman to achieve this in ODIs, with Gibbs hitting six sixes off Dan van Bunge against Netherlands in the 2007 World Cup in West Indies. Ravi Shastri and Sobers hit six sixes in First Class cricket while Yuvraj Singh hit six sixes in one over bowled by Stuart Broad in the World T20 match against England in Durban. His fifty off 12 balls remains the fastest-ever in the shortest format of the game.