Australia batsman Chris Lynn came painfully close to becoming the first player to score an Abu Dhabi T10 century in the UAE capital on Monday night but believes there is ample opportunity to go nine runs better over the tournament’s remaining six days.
The 29-year-old struck a blistering unbeaten 91 from a mere 30 balls, an innings containing a total of nine fours and seven sixes at a strike rate of 303.33 for Maratha Arabians.
Lynn broke his countryman Alex Hales’ record of 87 not out in the ten-over tournament – also made while playing for the Arabians in 2018.
He could have had three-figures were it not for being relatively starved of the strike towards the end of the Maratha’s innings. After smashing Harry Gurney for three fours and two sixes in the seventh over, Lynn was well set to notch up the competition’s maiden hundred with 82 from 26 balls.
But the opener faced only four of the last 18 balls of the innings due to a combination of Adam Lyth (30 off 18) demolishing Marchant de Lange in the eighth over and being unable to get Lynn back on strike in the penultimate over.
He started the final over as the non-striker, unable to get down the other end until hitting the final ball of the innings for four. And although he admitted he would’ve liked to reach the historic milestone, Lynn said he had no reason to complain due to Lyth’s own impressive striking.
“Obviously when you get a bit closer, you want to get [to a hundred],” Lynn said, “but the guy at the other end was hitting boundaries as well. So to get 138 on that wicket was a really good job.
“It would have been nice to get the first hundred of the T10 but that’s the way it goes and there’re plenty more games in this tournament to try and get another opportunity to do that. We’ll just see what happens.”
Lynn’s teammate Yuvraj Singh hailed the knock as outstanding. “It’ a sign of how the game has evolved that guys are getting close to scoring a hundred in a T10 game,” Yuvraj said. “It’s amazing how the game has changed over the years.
“He is someone I have seen in the IPL. He has given some great starts to KKR [Kolkata Knight Riders]. I really don’t understand how they didn’t retain him. I think that’s a bad call, must send SRK [Shah Rukh Khan, the franchise owner] a message on that.”
It has been a discussion often broached over the course of the T10 format’s emergence as to whether an individual century is possible, a course of discourse prompted by league owner Shaji ul Mulk offering up an apartment to the first centurion at the start of the inaugural season in 2017. Luke Ronchi top-scored with 70 that year, with the idea gaining real momentum in 2018.
First, Sherfane Rutherford hit a hundred in a warm-up match that season before Mohammad Shahzad’s 74 not out from just 16 balls – an innings only brought to a premature end as the Rajputs chased down 95 in four overs – suggested it would be a matter of time before someone scores a T10 hundred.
Hales, Jonny Bairstow (84*) and Rovman Powell (80*) went on to break the 80-run barrier in the second season as players inched closer and closer to scoring a century.
Will Jacks – now a teammate of Rutherford for Delhi Bulls this year – further greased the wheels by hitting a hundred in a ten-over contest for Surrey against their County Championship counterparts Lancashire at the ICC Academy in Dubai back in March.
But the tournament’s move to Abu Dhabi seemed to imply that batsmen would struggle to get near that mark in 2019 due to slow, tacky pitches as well as long square boundaries.
Lynn, however, had other ideas, hitting relentlessly to all parts of the ground on a fresh wicket described as “amazing” by Abu Dhabi’s captain Moeen Ali and one that proved not to be as two-paced as the others used across the first three days.
Despite coming up just short, Lynn’s innings showed that as the tournament enters its second group stage, the race to become Abu Dhabi T10’s first centurion is well and truly back on.
“We know there are players in the competition who can [hit a century],” Moeen, the man trying to counter Lynn’s onslaught, said. “I’m sure it’s going to happen very soon. There’s a great chance [of it happening] if somebody gets in.”