Already assured of a home final, the table-topping Otago Volts today made it a stellar eight wins on the trot as they downed the Devon Hotel Central Stags in a last-over thriller at Pukekura Park.
The victory ended the Stags' habit of winning at the New Plymouth ground, but after winning the toss the home side would have been less than satisfied with their total of 163/7.
Senior paceman Ian Butler was the star of the bowling effort with a return of 3-28 that included Jamie How, who was set on 31 at the time, with the first ball of his second over; and Jeet Raval who top-scored for the Stags with 49 before being caught behind just short of what would have been his maiden T20 half-century.
It was a crucial blow to the Stags who were largely on the back foot against the Volts' efficient attack until captain Kieran Noema-Barnett stepped on the gas in the 17th over.
The scoreboard read 111/4 as James Fuller ran in to deliver the first ball of the over. By its end, that had ballooned to 136/4 after Noema-Barnett carved out three blistering sixes.
The return of Fuller's hunting partner Jacob Duffy at the other end saw Carl Cachopa caught behind cheaply and Tarun Nethula run out just four balls later, but the aggressive Noema-Barnett stuck around to blast another two consecutive sixes off Fuller and, with Bevan Small, ensured the Stags got through to a total that would at least give them a fighting chance.
Hamish Rutherford got the Volts' chase off to a bright start, slamming Marty Kain for six in the first over and racing to 36 off 19 before he was caught behind off Zimbabwean international Kyle Jarvis.
With plenty of depth in their batting line-up, the Volts seemed in cruise mode for much of the innings, the required run rate staying in single-figures territory until a sudden flurry of wickets upped the urgency.
Captain Noema-Barnett's decision to bring himself on in the 14th paid dividends when he lured dangerous pro Ryan ten Doeschate into a skied miscue (safely caught by How) and then sent his opposing captain Derek de Boorder back to the tent with a golden duck.
Three balls later Michael Bracewell fell to Cachopa - Kain netting his third catch of the innings, the score having morphed from a comfortable 112/3 to a less fetching 115/6, with no time for the new batsmen to get established.
Sam Wells came and went just as quickly, leaving Fuller and Butler to step up with 21 needed off the last 12 balls. Undaunted, Fuller peeled a boundary off Jarvis before Butler produced a huge six over long on and into the terraces, followed by another maximum for good measure. Butler then coolly executed a cover drive for four to win the match with four balls to spare.
The Volts now bring in Australian paceman Brett Lee for their round 10 encounter with the Canterbury Wizards at home on Tuesday, while the Stags will look to end their tough season on a high by beating the Aces in Auckland in a match that will determine whether the Aces progress to the Preliminary Final.
The only side to have beaten the Volts this season remains the SKYCITY Northern Knights, who inflicted an opening-round loss on the southerners in Hamilton back in early November.