After both sides had posted 167 in their initial innings the umpires led Neesham and Brendon McCullum back to the crease to face six balls from Lions’ left-arm bowler Sohail Tanvir.
Neesham crashed a four through covers from the first delivery and McCullum added a maximum as Otago went on to post 13 but that target looked fragile when Quinton de Kock began the Lions response with 10 from the first two balls.
But incredibly the Lions added just three runs in the remainder of the over, with Neesham dismissing James Sykes, to leave the scores level – Otago sneaking victory by virtue of hitting more boundaries in the match.
“Everyone has their day," said Neesham. "I guess today was my day. Did I seem calm? It might just have been on the surface. I think this is the biggest day and will stay in my memory for a while."
McCullum added: “"It was a brilliant game of cricket. It could have gone either way and we were very fortunate to come on the right side of it thanks to a brilliant innings from James Neesham.”
In Sunday’s later match Rajasthan Royals crushed Perth Scorchers by nine wickets to retake top spot in Group B from Otago.
Perth posted a meagre 120, with only Adam Voges (27) scoring over 20, which was easily chased down by their opponents with 21 balls remaining.
Despite losing Rahul Dravid for a duck, Rajasthan soon settled with Ajinkya Rahane and Sanju Samson forming a formidable partnership at the crease as the pair both struck half-centuries en route to a comfortable win.