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Defending champions Mumbai Indians paid the price for their indifferent show, crashing out of the Champions League T20 as a committed Northern Knights from New Zealand overpowered them with a one-sided six-wicket victory in the final qualifying round match, on Tuesday.
Apart from Northern, the other team that qualified for the main round was Pakistan’s Lahore Lions, who won two of their three matches while MI had the ignominy of being the first ever defending champions in six editions, who were ousted in the preliminary round. Lions incidentally are first team from Pakistan to qualify for CLT20 main round.
After being out into bat, Mumbai Indians scored a below par 132 for nine in 20 overs with none of their batsmen scoring big on a pitch that aided medium pacers. Tim Southee and Scott Styris took three wickets apiece.
In reply, Kane Williamson (53 off 36 balls) presented copybook technique with calculated assault as an opening partnership of 83 with left-hander Anton Devcich sealed the issue for the ‘Pink Panthers’ in only 17.2 overs.
Devcich, on his part, scored 39 as batting became easier during second half with dew factor coming into play.
It was a treat to watch Williamson’s batting. Dubbed as a player for longer versions, the young Black Caps batsman showed the virtue of proper technique as he repeatedly danced charged down the track to spinners reaching to the pitch of the deliveries while playing the lofted shot.
Yet his second 50 in the tournament came off 32 balls as he reached the landmark with a straight six and a four off Harbhajan Singh’s bowling.
In all, Williamson, hit seven boundaries and a six before his uppish drive of Jasprit Bumrah delivery was taken by Pollard at short cover.
BJ Watling was out when Harbhajan plucked a catch out off thin air off Bumrah’s bowling but by then Northern were well on course to reach the target.
Earlier, Mumbai Indians batting floundered, yet again as the high-profile franchise could manage only 132 for nine in their ‘do-or-die’ final qualifying game after being put into bat by Northern skipper Daniel Flynn.
Save skipper Kieron Pollard, who scored 31 off 24 balls, none of the Mumbai Indians batsmen displayed enough firepower against a disciplined Northern bowling attack which used the sluggish pitch to good effect.
It was young Shreyas Gopal, who smashed 24 off 12 balls, who took MI past 130-run mark.
While 39-year-old Styris (3/21) had the best figures among the bowlers, it was Southee (3/24), who was both deadly and economical in his first three overs before Gopal took him apart in the final over of the innings.
At the start, Mike Hussey (7) got impatient as he tried to give Southee the charge in the fourth over of the innings but couldn’t get the required elevation as Scott Kuggeleijn took a diving catch at mid-on.
MI’s experiment with Jalaj Saxena (10) failed yet again as the MP all-rounder managed a six of Kuggeleijn but was gone when Kane Williamson took a blinder at cover, inches off the ground with Styris being the bowler.
It was not expected that Jalaj will be Rohit Sharma’s replacement but he has done precious little in the three matches that he played in the tournament.
The pitch aided military-medium Northern bowlers as the normally attacking Lendl Simons (13, 17) also found it tough to get going. Finally, he lost his patience trying a slog shot moving towards leg-stump but was bowled in the process giving Styris his second wicket.
MI were struggling at 34 for three in the eighth over. With not many runs on the board and overs running by, it was consolidation time for the ‘Men In Electric Blue’ but unfortunately it didn’t happen.
It soon became 46 for five, when Styris got his third victim of the match when Aditya Tare (7) tried a cut shot but was smartly snapped by Watling.
Pollard (31) and Harbhajan Singh (10) stemmed the rot briefly with a 29-run stand but it was certainly not enough.
Pollard did manage to hit a big six off Kuggeleijn and a couple of boundaries but was nowhere near his destructive best with little support from the other end.
Harbhajan was holed in the deep off Kuggeleijn while Pollard mistimed a pull-shot that was taken by Daniel Harris at the deep square leg off Southee’s bowling to leave MI tottering at 89 for seven.
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