Premier New Zealand batsman Kane Williamson showed his prowess in shortest format as his smashing innings powered Northern Knights to a convincing seven-wicket victory over Sri Lanka’s Southern Express in a rain-curtailed opening game of the Champions League T20 in Raipur on Saturday.
With heavy downpour and soggy outfield reducing the match to 10-overs per side, Southern Express managed 92 for five in 10 overs which was easily surpassed by the Northern side with three balls to spare as Williamson led the charge with a 29-ball-52.
Known for his solid technique in Tests and ODIs, Williamson showed his class with some copybook hitting showing classical footwork against the spinners hitting seven fours and a six.
He started with a lofted straight four off leggie Sekkuge Prasanna but he literally pounced on off-breaks from Danushka Gunathilaka. He made room to hit the spinner over extra cover and also danced down the track to hit a six over mid-on. In between, he had swept him for good measure for another boundary.
Williamson was esepcailly severe on Charith Jayampathi as he played some flowing cover drives and was also quick to swat anything that drifted down the leg-side.
He completed his half-century off 28 balls with a lofted boundary off former Sri Lankan seamer Ferveez Maharoof before being played on off the very next delivery.
However by the time, Williamson was back in the confines of the dressing room the Northern Knights had the match in their pocket with only seven more to get off nine balls.
Scott Styris and Daniel Harris safely saw the Kiwi outfit home.
Earlier, openers Kusal Perera and Gunathilaka rode their luck due to shoddy fielding from Northerns as Southern Express scored 92 for five in 10 overs.
Kusal smashed his way to 37 off 20 balls with seven boundaries as Gunathilaka contributed 39 off 26 balls with two fours and three sixes as their opening stand of 55 laid the foundation for a challenging score.
However the left-handed duo were helped by the profligacy of the Northern fielders, who dropped as many as six catches, three each of both openers.
The diminutive Kusal was quick to dispatch anything on his legs behind the square and bit of width on the off saw him hit a few spanking cover drives. While he was on 22, Scott Kuggeleijn missed a sitter running from his mid-on position off Tim Southee’s bowling.
He was then dropped on 33 when he tried to pull Scott Styris and skipper BJ Watling standing up failed to gather the reflex catch.
On the same score off Styris’ next over, he was dropped as Trent Boult wasn’t standing at the deep mid-wicket boundary line and the result was a catch that went through his fingers for a boundary. However Styris had the last laugh when Kusal tried to whip another one off his legs but Boult standing at square leg held onto the catch.
His partner Gunathilaka was slow to begin with as he was unable to time properly. Watling, who had a harrowing time behind the stumps dropped Gunathilaka twice off two balls bowled by leggie Ish Sodhi.
Desperate to break shackles, Gunathilaka lofted Styris over cow corner which the fielder failed to latch onto as ball went over boundary ropes.
However Gunathilaka’s next two sixes off Anton Devicich’s left-arm spin were clean hits as he made up for the initial waste of deliveries.
Once he was played on by Boult, Southern Express’s innings lost a bit of momentum.