In pursuit of the Hurricanes’ total of 266 for seven, they seemed to have no chance when, halfway through their innings, they were on 120 for five with all their specialist batsmen back in the pavilion and Peter Borren and Mahesh Hans entirely in the ascendant with the ball.
But at this point Umar Baker joined Shane Snater at the crease, and gradually, almost imperceptibly, they shifted the balance of the game in the Seafarers’ favour.
For a long time they were content with ones, twos and the occasional boundary, and with ten overs left the asking rate had risen to eight an over. Borren had two for 22 from eight overs at this stage, while Hans finished with three for 41.
The batsmen were now set, however, and although Hurricanes’ skipper Saqib Zulfiqar did everything he could think of by way of juggling his attack, the stand had mounted to 122 before, with four overs left, Logan van Beek broke through Snater’s defences and bowled him.
Combining sensible, controlled batting with some inspired improvisation, Snater had made a 74-ball 81 which included one four and four sixes, and at this point Baker, very much the junior partner at the outset, had reached 42.
But he and Snater had got the task down to 25 needed from 22 deliveries, and if the Hurricanes sensed that the door was ajar with the latter’s departure, it was quickly slammed in their faces by Philippe Boissevain, who gave Baker outstanding support in the final overs.
Van Beek and Fred Klaassen were unable to find the control required in such pressured circumstances, and they were not helped by some crucial mistakes in the field.
The final over began with just five needed for victory, and the denouement came with a high full toss, hit over the keeper’s head by Baker to move him on to a thoroughly-deserved half-century and to get his team home with two balls to spare.
That the Hurricanes had managed to get to 266 was due to three contrasting innings: a patient, painstaking one by opener Dirk van Baren; a typically aggressive one in the middle overs from Sikander Zulfiqar; and a calculated flurry of violence at the end from Van Beek.
The Seafarers’ new-ball attack of Snater and Haseeb Gul made the most of a somewhat unpredictable pitch during the first powerplay, and in an excellent display of hostile pace bowling Snater unleashed a series of bouncers, one striking Asad Zulfiqar painfully on the elbow, and eventually trapped him leg-before with one which kept low.
Van Baren survived all this, however, moving on to an 84-ball 51 which included just two boundaries, before he attempted an over-ambitious sweep and was bowled by Baker, who produced an excellent spell and fully deserved his figures of two for 39.
Two run-outs did not help the Hurricanes’ cause, especially that of Borren, who played some outrageous shots in a 25-ball cameo of 27 before he was involved in a misunderstanding with Van Baren.
At 150 for five the Hurricanes’ innings, too, was teetering, but Sikander Zulfiqar’s hard-hitting 53-ball 47 and Van Beek’s unbeaten 42, plus a free-and-easy 18 not out from 11 deliveries by Rahil Ahmed, got them up to a decent total.
Any devils which the pitch may had contained in the first hour had evidently gone to sleep by the time the Seafarers batted, and Wesley Barresi and Stef Myburgh got their side away to a flyer against Van Beek and Klaassen.
Klaassen did trap Barresi in front in the fourth over, but Myburgh went on to make 40 from 34 deliveries before Hans came on and with his second ball had the left-hander caught behind by Ahmed.
That ushered in a period of play in which Hans and Borren worked their way through the Seafarers’ top order, and despite a defiant 28 from Tim Etman it appeared inevitable that the Hurricanes would take the match and the series.
But then came that stand between Snater and Baker which stood the game on its head, and the two sides go into Wednesday’s third and final match all square.