With Hobart Hurricanes beating Barbados Tridents in Mohali’s first match and KXIP and KKR completing their superb run, three semifinalists are already known for this year’s champions’ league. The last spot will be known on Tuesday, when Lahore Lions take on Perth Scorchers, who are already out of contention. Lahore Lions can disappoint CSK only if they record a huge win against Scorchers. If the Lions bat first, they must win by over 50 runs but if they are chasing they must come to the finish line by over No.15. CSK will be the keenest observers of that match at Bangalore. In Sunday’s first match at Mohali, Hurricanes played a calculated game and recorded an easy 6-wicket victory over the Barbados Tridents. In the second match, Kings Eleven’s Akshar Patel and Anureet Singh engineered a sudden collapse to take 6 Cobras wickets for just 18 runs as the entire side folded for 135 runs in 18.3 overs after losing 4 wickets for 117. After that the small target was reached with consummate ease.
In the first match, Hobart Hurricanes won the toss and elected to take the field. The Tridents batsmen were in trouble from the beginning against a fiery spell from Hilfenhaus and Doug Bollinger. Neil Mckenzie was sent back by Bollinger as the batsman tried to pull a short ball. But the pace deceived him as he could only get an under edge and Paine took the catch. In the fifth over, which turned out to be wicket maiden, Hilfenhaus took two wickets in two balls. First he bowled a bouncer to Raymon Reifer, who missed a pull shot but the top edge went for an easy catch to the keeper. But since the batsmen had crossed, new man Jonathan Carter didn’t face Hilfenhaus’ next delivery. Instead it was Munaweera, who shuffled to a straighter delivery in playing an uppish flick to Blizzard and the fielder took the lobbed ball rather easily. 28/3 after 6 overs of batting power-play was a poor start for the Tridents. James Franklin and Jonathan Carter tried to steady the boat somewhat but in the 10th over, Franklin was bowled by Doherty to make it 48/4 for Tridents. Carter continued to struggle with others but Tridents kept losing wickets with clockwork regularity. Finally, Carter also got out as Tridents’ eighth wicket at 101 in the 17th over after making 42 off 34 balls. The entire team got out for 113 in 19.4 overs. Xavier Doherty was the chief wrecker in the middle stages with 4 wickets, while Bollinger and Hilfenhaus shared 2 wickets each and together they yielded only 41 runs in 8 overs.
A 114-run chase for victory looked a cakewalk but Hurricanes lost an early wicket as Ben Dunk departed in the opening over. This slowed down the progress for Hurricanes as they made only 31 in 39 balls, before Blizzard fell LBW to Akeal Hosein in the 7th over. After that Hurricanes lost two more wickets but Shoaib Malik and Jonathan Wells carried them through for a well-deserved 6 wickets victory, which also ensured Hurricanes entry to the semifinals.
The second match also turned out to be a low scoring game, in which Kings Eleven won the toss and asked Cape Cobras to bat first. The way Cobras began their innings, it could not have given any indication of the shape of events to unfold later in their innings. Hashim Amla and Richard Levi put on 60 runs for the first wicket in less than 7 overs. But once Amla departed after making a 22-ball 40, things began to worsen for the Cobras. They lost Omphile Ramela at 84, Levi at 103 and Dane Vilas at 117 as the fourth wicket. Then came the duo of Anureet Singh and Akshar Patel for KXIP. The innocuous looking spinners did not merely tie down Cobras, they began removing one batsman after another and from 117/4 in the 15th over, Cape Cobras lost all their remaining wickets for the addition of just 18 runs in 24 balls.
KXIP was under no pressure, having already entered the semifinals of the champions’ league. Therefore, they began the 136-run chase with their minds clear. Virender Sehwag and Manan Vohra added 41 for the first wicket in 5.2 overs. Even after Vohra departed, Sehwag and Maxwell added 33. Sehwag also got out in the 10th over and Maxwell in the 14th. At that point, KXIP’s score stood at 108/3 with Wriddhiman Saha and David Miller at the crease. It was quite easy afterwards as Saha and Miller remained unbeaten with KXIP notching up an easy 7-wicket victory with 11 balls remaining. Saha made 42 off 35 balls and Miller 16 off 14. The three batsmen that fell each scored 23 apiece albeit in different numbers of balls.