Professional Lions outclass Mumbai Indians
Lions 158 for 2 (McKenzie 68*, de Kock 51*) beat Mumbai Indians 157 for 6 (Johnson 30) by eight wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
A calm and collected Neil McKenzie, and a young and fearless Quinton de Kock added 123 for the third wicket to take Lions to a comprehensive win, their second over the superstar-filled Mumbai Indians.
It was a scrappy ungainly match until McKenzie and de Kock came together. Sachin Tendulkar (16 off 24) and Rohit Sharma struggled for momentum, Champions League debutant Mitchell Johnson was promoted to No. 4 for a 29-ball 30 that frustrated the others into playing low-percentage shots, extras and edges helped Mumbai Indians to a fighting total, and then the Lions openers matched the Mumbai batsmen in the go-slow.
Lions had seen three teams before them win the toss and choose to chase because South African grounds are difficult to defend. All three had failed. Alviro Petersen, though, showed no signs of second thoughts before asking Mumbai to bat. Perhaps he knew something about Mumbai batsmen. Six of them reached double figures, but only three of them went at more than 103.44 per 100 balls.
Clearly the Mumbai batsmen didn't fancy the pace and bounce of Dirk Nannes, Sohail Tanvir and Chris Morris, who bowled 12 overs for 90 runs and four wickets between them. And those figures hardly do them justice.
Their biggest test, though, was Dwayne Smith's charmed 26 off 19. Good shots and edges existed in equal measure in Smith's effort. It seemed to almost infuriate the Lions bowlers, especially Morris who began to bowl wides while trying too hard. However, he got his own back by trapping Smith in front. It might have been 45 for 1 in the fifth over then, but Tendulkar and Rohit Sharma were about to stall the innings.
Rohit went at a run a ball, and Tendulkar at one point was 3 off 10 balls. Left-arm spinner Aaron Phangiso found this the perfect time to turn the screws tighter, and finally got Tendulkar when he missed with a heave-ho. Harbhajan Singh sprung a surprise by sending Johnson in at No. 4, but that hardly seem to perturb Lions.
Phangiso and Zander de Bruyn hurried through with a few quiet overs. The pressure duly resulted in wickets, but Dinesh Karthik provided Mumbai 19 quick runs off nine balls. Mumbai seemed to have carried that momentum with them. Johnson and Lasith Malinga gave nothing away at the start, and Gulam Bodi and Petersen threatened to undo Tendulkar and Johnson's work with the bat.
McKenzie joined de Kock at 37 for 2 in the seventh over, and began with a reverse-sweep for four first ball. De Kock had already slog-swept two sixes. Even as the asking rate went as high as 10.66 for the last six overs. McKenzie, 26 off 24, and de Kock, 30 off 21, were in by then. Now was the time to launch.
Wrong. It was time to caress, McKenzie style. He hit Pollard over midwicket, watched the third man come up to accommodate a deep midwicket, and then steered a full delivery fine of that short third man. This was lovely touch play. It continued with two pulled boundaries off Dhawal Kulkarni, chosen ahead of the seasoned Munaf Patel.
The best, however, was reserved for the captain Harbhajan Singh, as if he had not had a bad day already with his tactics. McKenzie swept him either side of square leg, then wide of deep midwicket, and then past point for fours to kill the game in the 17th over. The finishing touch was that de Kock, too, reached a fifty.
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo