Kolkata Knight Riders came into this game on a ten-match winning streak, including games from their successful IPL campaign earlier this year in May. They stretched it to 11 after defeating Lahore Lions by four wickets with three balls to spare in their Champions League T20 fixture at Hyderabad on Sunday.
Kolkata’s spinners set up the win after Gautam Gambhir won the toss and decided to field. Sunil Narine was once again outstanding, returning with figures of three for nine in his four overs. Piyush Chawla accounted for the dangerous-looking Ahmed Shehzad but the story of the night was Kuldeep Yadav, the 19-year-old debutant chinaman, who proved that he is a real India prospect.
Yadav’s bowling figures, 4-0-21-1, didn’t quite reflect Yadav’s skills, but he could have easily added a couple more to his tally if the chances were taken. The best thing about the youngster was his temperament – thoroughly composed against a team from the subcontinent, who were expected to play spin well.
On a slow turner, however, Pakistan’s T20 champions looked all at sea against the turning ball, losing five of their seven wickets to the spinners. Still they managed to get to 151 because Shehzad played a good hand of 59 runs upfront and Umar Akmal provided a cameo (40 runs, 24 balls) at the death following a middle-order collapse.
Still, 152 could have been a tricky target to chase on this surface. Gambhir and Robin Uthappa made things look easy with a 100-run partnership (12.3 overs) for the first wicket. An inconsistent Lions bowling and poor fielding allowed Gambhir to return to form with 60 valuable runs while Uthappa, dropped on 14, made 46 off 34 deliveries.
Brief scores: Lions 151/7 in 20 overs (A Shehzad 59, U Akmal 40; S Narine 3/9, K Yadav 1/21) lost to Knight Riders 153/6 in 19.3 overs (G Gambhir 60, R Uthappa 46; A Cheema 2/42) by 4 wickets
Blizzard powers hurricanes
Aiden Blizzard played a blistering knock as Hobart Hurricanes beat Cape Cobras by six wickets in a group league encounter of the Champions League T20, to keep their hopes of qualifying for the semi-final alive.
Chasing a stiff target of 184, the man known as ‘Hurricane Blizzard’ swept the Cobras away with his 48-ball-78 blitzkrieg that had four boundaries and five huge sixes as the Aussie outfit won the contest with an over to spare.
Blizzard got a reprieve in the 18th over bowled by Vernon Philander, where he was caught in the deep but the bowler overstepped resulting in a free-hit being awarded to the batting team. The over yielded 24 runs including two huge sixes and four hit by the 30-year-old. Jonathan Wells did well to be the ideal foil during their unbroken 65 run stand for the fifth wicket.
It all began when opener Ben Dunk set the stage with a 35-ball-54 before Blizzard finished off the game in style. Left-handed Dunk started the onslaught as he hit seven boundaries in a space of nine deliveries with three of them off Philander and four in an over from left-arm spinner Robin Peterson.
Brief scores: Cobras 184/6 in 20 overs (R Levi 45, V Philander 32*; B Laughlin 2/31, B Hilfenhaus 2/49) lost to Hurricanes 186/4 in 19 overs (A Blizzard 78*, B Dunk 54*; S Engelbrecht 3/20) by six wickets