Surrey all-rounder Sean Abbott tied for the T20’s fastest century. Throw 34 balls by defeating Kent at The Oval.
Abbott, whose previous highest T20 score was 41, matched Andrew Symonds’ effort for Kent in 2004 with a display of extraordinary shots.
Coming on with struggling Surrey on 64-4, the Australia international broke 11 sixes to complete 110 not on 41 deliveries and take the hosts to 223-5.
Daniel Bell-Drummond and Tawanda Muyeye’s opening stand of 108 got the visitors off to a great start, but they collapsed from 135-1 to 147-6 and fell short at 182-7.
The game in south London was one of eight played on an exhilarating first Friday night of the 2023 competition.
Elsewhere, Worcestershire Rapids scored 20 goals in the final to beat Yorkshire Vikings to earn back-to-back Group North victories.
Graham Clark’s unbeaten 102 propelled Durham to a 10-wicket win over Northamptonshire Steelbacks and the Notts Outlaws secured a four-wicket win over East Midlands rivals Derbyshire Falcons.
There was a quicker score at Grace Road as Sam Hain’s 65 balls not on 43 balls helped the unbeaten Birmingham Bears beat the Leicestershire Foxes by five wickets.
In the South Group, James Vince’s 88 were not knocked out, defending champions Hampshire took an eight-wicket win over Middlesex, Somerset chased 184 at Sussex and Glamorgan snuck home by two ticket offices in Gloucestershire.
Abbott in the record books
With a T20 batting average of just 10.91 in 76 innings, few would have expected what was to come when Abbott came down the middle in the ninth round.
The 31-year-old raised his first half-delivery 22 and then started hitting Kent bowlers in all parts of a crowded oval.
Paceman Kane Richardson was especially punished as Abbott exploded 30 on the 17th and then went to his hundred with straight six flats from Michael Hogan.
Only Chris Gayle (30 balls), Rishabh Pant (32 balls) and Wihan Lubbe (33 balls) have scored centuries faster in T20 cricket.
Kent looked set to hit their mammoth target of 224 with Bell-Drummond and Muyeye passing them 100 in the ninth.
But once Bell-Drummond swung Sunil Narine at Tom Lawes from deep, Kent dropped six wickets for 22 runs down the middle to lose by 41 runs.
“Hittering records couldn’t be further off my radar,” Abbott said.
“I’ve already spent some time in the middle this year in the red ball thing and I was talking with my skipper at home, Moises Henriques, about coming to a lot of games here quite close together. I asked him how I could improve and contribute.
“My numbers are not good with the bat, I know that, and he was honest with me.
“He told me to keep working on a few things and if I had the chance to go out there and do my best, so it was good to have some positive feedback and to let him know. reassurance – that certainly helped tonight.”
Last drama at New Road
Adam Finch was Worcestershire Rapids’ hero as he hit Yorkshire pacemaker Matthew Fisher for three sixes in the final over to lead his side to a two-wicket victory.
Finch, just his fourth T20 inning, finished on 30-of-10 deliveries as the Rapids came home with a ball to spare.
“I don’t think I’ll ever be able to hit three in a row like that, but I’m really happy about it,” Finch said.
“With the last six, I think it was the longest period of my life, seeing the ball in the air and then going on. It was really nice to see it land.”
Previously, Yorkshire had recovered well from 64-4 to 175-9, helped by a fifth-wicket stand of 56 between Matt Revis (42) and Jordan Thompson (36).
Adam Hose’s 44 put the Rapids on course, but then there was a rattle of wickets before Finch helped them to 177-8.
Former Worcestershire batter Joe Clarke played with 68 from 29 balls as Nottinghamshire hit their target of 179 to beat Derbyshire.
Fifties of Luis Reece and Wayne Madsen had led the Falcons to 178-6 but flyhalf Clarke and Matt Montgomery (51) made light work of the chase. George Scrimshaw took three wickets in the 17th to shine the victory, but Notts was already well at home by then.
Durham needed just 13.2 overs to pass Northants’ 137 as Clark’s 49-ball century with support from Alex Lees took them 141-0.
Nathan Sowter, Durham’s kicker, returned the most impressive bowling tricks of the night with 5-15.
At Grace Road, no Leicestershire batter went over 30 in their 166-7 and the Birmingham Bears easily hit their target with Australian all-rounder Glenn Maxwell (47 from 27 balls) and Hain putting in 90 for the third wicket.
Vince shows class for the Hawks
Holders Hampshire sent Middlesex to their second loss in consecutive days thanks to Vince’s elegant innings of 88 from 55 at the Ageas Bowl.
The visitors looked on course for more than 171 after going 161-4 at the start of the 18th but after Pieter Malan’s wicket for 80 they could only muster another 10 runs from their last 15 deliveries .
Ben McDermott and Vince carried the Hawks to 91 without a loss and the hosts never looked back as Vince passed 56 for the 56th time in T20.
In Hove, Sussex all-rounder Ravi Bopara matched Vince’s unbeaten 88, but that was in a losing cause against Somerset.
Bopara, playing his 440th T20 game, hit three fours and seven sixes in his 49-ball innings as Sussex went 183-8.
Tom Banton gave Somerset a blistering start, smashing 28 points off Fynn Hudson-Prentice’s fourth. Once Banton was out for 32, Tom Kohler-Cadmore picked up the slack with five sixes in his 72.
Three quick wickets made it a nervy end for the visitors before Ben Green hit a final four to help them cross the line with three to spare.
There was another late arrival in Bristol as Glamorgan beat Gloucestershire with five deliveries remaining.
Ben Charlesworth’s 56 had helped the hosts recover from 49-4 at 161-9 and Glamorgan looked struggling at 149-8 in the 19th.
But straight sixes from Ruaidhri Smith and Timm van der Gugten gave Glamorgan victory.