CSK Champions LeagueOf the two matches played in Bangalore on Tuesday, only the first between Lahore Lions and Perth Scorchers was crucial to decide the remaining semifinalist of the Champions’ League. The Lions were pitted against not the Scorchers but the Super Kings for the last spot in final four. Perth Scorchers was just a team and not a semifinal contender and Lahore Lions needed to beat them by a huge margin. Any other result was to benefit only the CSK. Under such demanding situations, the Lions began batting first at Bangalore against the Scorchers. They had lost the toss, then they lost early wickets and before they could realize their Champions’ League challenge was over. The Scorchers packed too many guns for the disappointed Lions in the end. By a straightforward loss, Lahore Lions presented the last semifinal berth to CSK. The second match between Barbados Tridents and Northern Knights held no clues. It was only of academic value, where the winner could salvage some lost glory before going home, since both teams had already gone out of the count in the tournament. In the end, the honor wrested with the Tridents. But the match was well contested regardless.

Perth Scorcher Skipper Mitchell Marsh won the toss and asked Lahore Lions to bat first. Including himself, Marsh had the bowling strength to attack the Lions from the start. On the third ball of first over from Joel Paris, Nasir Jamshed went for a heave, got a big top edge that went high over deep-square leg and Brad Hogg made no mistake. It started raining at this point and the play had to be stopped. On resumption, Paris continued from where he left off in the first over. His last ball was on length and straight and  Umar Siddiq’s wild swing only resulted in the ball hitting the top of off stump. Marsh came to bowl the second over of the innings and on the fourth ball, he bowled Lahore captain Mohammad Hafeez, who impatiently dragged an ill-advised shot on to his stumps. 3/3 in 2 overs was the least likely scenario for a team that wanted a semifinal spot in the tournament. Marsh gobbled up Wahab Riaz in the fourth over to make it 11/4 for Lahore Lions. Saad Nasim and the usually reliable Umar Akmal prevented more early damage and took the score to 54 before Akmal fell for 26 in tenth over. Mohammad Saeed Joined Nasim and the two batsmen carried on until the 18th over before Saeed perished as well. Lahore were going nowhere with 102/6 in 18 overs. Asif Raza was the new partner for Saad Nasim, who emerged as the lone crusader for the Lions. At the end of 20 overs, Lahore Lions had only reached 124/7 and 69 of those runs had come from Nasim off 55 balls with 7 fours and one six.

When Scorchers came on to chase 125, Lahore Lions arranged the field as if they were playing a test match. This paid off as Lions’ spinners took six wickets for 40 runs in the 9th over. As the Scorchers panicked, Lahore applied more pressure. Until the 13th over, it looked as if the Lahorians would get away with the difficult task of defending 124. But Marsh played a captain’s knock and held the innings together in later stages. In the end, he had able support from Brad Hogg and together, Marsh and Hogg reached the target in 19 overs. Marsh remained unbeaten with an authoritative 63 off 38 balls with 7 fours and 3 sixes. Hogg chipped in with 28 off 19 with 2 fours and 2 sixes. Marsh became a hero for CSK as the match ended as the Chennai side wanted Lahore Lions out at any cost.

In the second match, James Franklin’s heroics ensured that Barbados Tridents beat Northern Knights in an encounter of inconsequential nature. Tridents won the toss and put Northern Knights to bat. Though the Knights lost Kane Williamson in the second over, Anton Devcich and his skipper Daniel Flynn added 60 for the second wicket. But once Flynn was out, the floodgates opened. From 60/1 it became 76/4 in the 13th over with Ravi Rampaul and Emdy Munaweera dominating the Knights’ batsmen. Only BJ Watling and Tim Southee came away with respectable scores as Northern Knights could reach 135/8 in the maximum permissible 19 overs.

The target of 136 was easy for the Tridents. They began well with Dilshan Munaweera and Raymon Reifer putting on 31 for the first wicket in 4.1 overs, when Munaweera departed. Reifer and Jason Holder both fell to Ish Sodhi in the eighth over to make it 49/3. But Jonathan Carter and James Franklin steadied the innings and added 56 for the fourth wicket in less than 8 overs. Elton Chigumbura played a crucial role towards the end with Franklin and guided Tridents to a deserved win.

The semifinals will be played in Hyderabad on October 2. In the first match Hobart Hurricanes will take on Kolkata Knight Riders and later Chennai Super Kings will play Kings Eleven Punjab. The Champions’ League final will be played on October 4 at Bangalore.