Chennai Super Kings v Lions, Group B, Cape Town October 17, 2012

Lions not surprised at beating IPL sides


There is a peculiar magic to unfancied sides that strike upon a winning formula. An underdog spirit that speaks of a whole greater than the sum of its parts, it bubbles to the surface in spontaneous displays of joie de vivre when the big boys are taken down a notch.

Trinidad & Tobago displayed such a sparkle during their run to the final of the inaugural Champions League in 2009. And in 2012, the Lions increasingly appear infused with the same spirit after inspired wins against two box office IPL sides - Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings.

In consecutive games, the Lions squad watched as their batsmen overcame star-studded opposition attacks. Both times, they lined up at the boundary's edge as the match reached its denouement, charging onto the field to embrace their team-mates once victory was sealed. Their success has been surprising only to those outside a Lions camp suffused with steel and self-belief.

"We always knew that we could be in a position like this," Lions captain Alviro Petersen said. "Against Mumbai, it was a calm and focussed performance. Here again, we were under pressure with the bat and the guys just stayed calm. We knew exactly what we could do if we could take the game to the last couple of overs."

The Lions are aware of the danger of getting ahead of themselves with only half the job done in this tournament, and Petersen insisted that, while it's important to enjoy success, they'd soon be switching their focus to the game against Sydney Sixers on Thursday.

"Being on an emotional high, like we've been against Mumbai Indians, it was important to get off our high horse and just start focussing on Chennai," he said. "And it's going to be exactly the same now.

"We obviously enjoyed the success and winning the game, but it's important that when tomorrow afternoon and evening comes we're focussed on the Sixers and put our plans in place for them."

Neil McKenzie and Quinton de Kock guided the Lions home against Mumbai with an unbroken 121-run partnership. This time around, Gulam Bodi's two-paced fifty, which switched between snail-speed and high-octane in the space of a couple of deliveries, powered their chase.

Though it's been the emotionally-charged celebrations of Lions' batsmen that have caught the attention of the photographers' lenses, one of the chief architects of their victories has been the fittingly unassuming Aaron Phangiso.

Phangiso has three wickets at 11.33 in the tournament so far, and has reluctantly given away runs at just 4.25 to the over. Tonight, he also added a remarkable backpedalling, diving catch to his contribution to get rid of the dangerous Faf du Plessis. "You don't practice stuff like that, it just happens," Phangiso said. "It happens in the moment. I was lucky to get it in the hands."

Born in Ga-Rankuwa, just north of Pretoria, Phangiso showed plenty of early promise and played Under-19 cricket for South Africa before his first-class debut eight years ago. He knocked around various academy, domestic and provincial sides, playing club cricket for Downham Town in the Norfolk Premier Division in England, before making something of a name for himself as a limited-overs bowler with the Lions.

With a CV like that, one might expect a little apprehension at bowling at the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni, but Phangiso isn't one to be bothered by reputation. "Honestly speaking, I don't look at names," he said. "I just work on my game and try and execute what I do best. I don't really look at who's batting or not, if I just hit my lines then I'm fine. Whichever way it goes, then so be it. History is written already."

With a few more plucky performances, characteristic of the team he plays for, Phangiso could well be helping to write a significant slice of cricketing history in the weeks to come.

Liam Brickhill is a freelance journalist based in Cape Town

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Prashan on October 19, 2012, 16:10 GMT

    @Al Minidodo Warming, thanks a lot for the information. Indeed Dravid, Tendulkar and Vengsarkar has proved hte difference.

  • Dummy4 on October 19, 2012, 6:32 GMT

    Lions are overjoyed after their victories against MI & CSK...but still being said that they are not surprised....

  • Yasir on October 18, 2012, 16:34 GMT

    @ Rajesh_india_1990:I appreciate CSK's win in 2010..But the current form of all IPL teams in CL Tournament..Just too bad.Sometimes i wonder how the hell can CSK lose with bowler like Bolinger,Hilfenhaus and Morkel.These Pitches are like tailor made for these bowlers.Still CSK couldnt defend a target which was a decent total.

  • Dummy4 on October 17, 2012, 18:04 GMT

    @Sinhaya: you might be right (about a few indian batsmen making the difference):;filter=advanced;home_or_away=2;host=1;host=2;host=3;host=4;host=5;orderby=batting_average;qualmin1=4;qualmin2=200;qualval1=innings;qualval2=runs;result=1;spanmin1=15+Mar+1980;spanval1=span;team=6;template=results;type=batting

  • Dummy4 on October 17, 2012, 17:45 GMT

    @Karthik, I don't think Aswin is jaded, he is doing the best most spinners can in a T20 in SA conditions. He was alright in India and SL. I was surprised by Balaji though, I expected him to do much better in SA.

  • Prashan on October 17, 2012, 16:34 GMT

    @Cpt.Meanster, also I forgot to say that India in West Indies have managed 5 test wins in contrast to just 1 by Sri Lanka. But remember again India started touring West Indies going back to the early 1950s and we had our first test in Caribbean only in 1997. So when looking at Sri Lanka, remember we got test status in 1982.

  • Dummy4 on October 17, 2012, 16:31 GMT

    CSK batted poorly - their bowling was never their strength (mirrors Indian record in T20)... They were 20 runs short by losing wickets after decent starts for each batsmen. Outside the pace bowlers - Dhoni had average fire power and some like Ashwin appear jaded. Lions to their credit - did a good job on the field and did well to keep cool after initial loss of wickets & picked the slow bowlers to turn the heat on CSK.. job well executed. IPL should be played abroad every alternate season if things have to improve.

    Hopefully next CLT20 - IPL gets only 2 automatic berth + 2 others in qualification to open up slots in main tournament - match practice will do good.

  • Ali on October 17, 2012, 15:57 GMT

    @kalu rajesh india 1990.ya we all r watching quality of IPL teams lolz..... hey Put all 8 ipl teams in CLt20,4 not enuf..hahah

  • kumar on October 17, 2012, 15:52 GMT

    I think it is time to ban Spin pitches or stop criticizing Spin talent. Cricket is only for ENG, AUS and SA. Everyone else should stop playing or following cricket.

  • Soul on October 17, 2012, 15:08 GMT

    @TommytuckerSaffa: Let your teams come to subcontinent...and you will know wats your team's strength really is for sure...

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