Northern KnightsIn a rain-curtailed game at Raipur that had to be decided by D/L method, the only talking point was Kane Williamson’s whirlwind 49-ball hundred. In the end, the third match of the Champions League became a no contest after Northern Knights scored the first 200+ score of the 2014 Champions League. The fireworks from the Knights came from someone, who had not played in the T20 format until last year. Williamson did not exude the traits of a T20 player as his game suited more to test cricket. One look at him at play pointed to a batsman from the colloquial mould and no one thought that the guy could ever take to the shorter formats, though he did play several 50-over matches. But T20 did not seem his cup of tea from any stretch of imagination. But like a scene in an unpredictable drama, things underwent a tumultuous change in 2014. On Friday, he came up with the fastest ever century of a Champions League tournament. Though the game had to be curtailed after 7.2 overs in the Cape Cobra innings, Kane Williamson emerged as a new T20 star.

Winning the toss, Cobras chose to field, little realizing what lay in store for them. Dale Styen was not playing but the two Knights openers; Kane Williamson and Anton Devcich began slowly. No one had any inkling of the shape of things to come as the pair added just 17 runs in the first three overs. However, after Devcich scored a single off the first ball of the fourth over, Williamson faced Philander. He took four consecutive 2s until the fifth ball and got a huge top edge from a mishit on the last ball and luckily for him it cleared the deep fine leg to drop outside the boundary. That probably slowed down Williamson and the two openers continued until the 8th over at the end of which they could reach 62/0. The ninth over went for 17 and the tenth for 10 and at halfway mark Knights had reached an impressive 93/0. Runs kept flowing afterwards and the tempo of scoring was sustained with both batsmen using the long handle at times. At the end of 13 overs, Knights had scored 136/0 and there was nothing to separate the two batsmen. Williamson had reached 68 in 33 balls and Devcich 66 in 45. In the 14th over, Devcich and new man Daniel Flynn both fell at the same score of 140. But Williamson continued in the company of BJ Watling, who hammered Justin Kemp’s 16th over for 17 runs. Afterwards Northern Knights lost three more wickets but Williamson went on clouting the Cobra bowlers to finish unbeaten on 101 off 49 balls with 8 fours and 5 sixes. Knights’ total of 206 was pretty imposing for the Cobras, who didn’t have their star batsman Duminy.

Chasing a massive 207 for victory, Cape Cobras began disastrously, losing birthday-boy Stiaan Van Zyl to the first ball of the innings. However, Hashim Amla and Robin Peterson carried on until the 6th over to add 38 for the second wicket before Amla fell to an uppish flick off Kuggeleijn to deep mid-wicket, where substitute BS Wilson took an easy catch. Cobras scored 6 runs more before the heavens opened and players ran to the pavilion. They all kept waiting until much after 11 PM, when the match was called off and the decision came from the Duckworth-Lewis. Cobras lost by 33 runs as they had not built up the rate until the 8th over, averaging a paltry 6 per over. For the Northern Knights, it was the fourth time in four matches that they emerged victorious at Raipur. The earlier three occasions were in the qualifying rounds, where they finished with a 100% record.