Lions reach final with rousing win
Lions 139 for 5 (Bodi 50, McKenzie 46*, Yadav 2-20) beat Delhi Daredevils 117 for 9 (Pietersen 50, Morris 2-7, Phangiso 2-18) by 22 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Gulam Bodi said at the half-way stage that his team, Lions, may have fallen around 15 short of their desired total but a spirited performance with the ball in favourable conditions was too much, even for a power-packed Delhi Daredevils batting line-up. Following up on Bodi's half-century and Neil McKenzie's death-over surge, Lions' Chris Morris bowled an outstanding spell and, backed ably by his spinners, helped knock out the only remaining IPL team from the Champions League. In doing so, Lions also kept alive the possibility of an all-South African finale in this diverse franchise tournament.
Lions managed a fighting 139 but Daredevils would have felt justified in their decision to bowl first in overcast conditions amid plenty of breeze. Their bowlers found swing, movement and good bounce, and the assistance lasted through the game. But Daredevils had the batsmen to counter that and they'd infused their line-up with more power up the order, with regular captain Mahela Jayawardene, surprisingly, sitting out again to make way for David Warner in the opening slot. Warner did attack, but briefly, and the early departure of Daredevils' openers was key in Lions being able to keep the pressure on.
They were helped by Virender Sehwag, who fell first ball trying to loft Sohail Tanvir over mid-on only to be caught, though Warner and Kevin Pietersen staged a counterattack. Both targeted Dirk Nannes, who was squeezed through extra cover for two boundaries from Warner and thrashed down the ground by Pietersen. But Morris, brought on first change, with his high-arm action, accuracy, minimal but unsettling movement and encouraging bounce tightened one end up. The bounce accounted for Warner, who top-edged a catch back to the bowler while attempting to jab one on the leg side, and that began a phase of stagnation.
It coincided with the introduction of spin, and Unmukt Chand found it difficult to get a move-on. While Morris was probing away at one end, Aaron Phangiso and Jean Symes, both left-arm spinners, gave little away, slowing it up often as the batsman found it hard to connect desirably when often swinging across the line. Overs six to ten yielded just 17 runs, Chand tied down at one end before he went down holing out to long-on, desperately seeking a lift. Instead of Ross Taylor, out came Irfan Pathan and his promotion failed. Nannes returned in the 14th over, attacking Taylor at No. 6 with a slip and the captain followed that over, as Nannes reacted swiftly to his right to pluck a one-handed catch.
Miscalculation was the feature of Daredevils' game, as Pathan's promotion followed the decision to send in Pawan Negi ahead of Ajit Agarkar. This, despite Agarkar's spunky batting that helped his team beat Perth Scorchers in their previous completed game. Pietersen, stranded at one end, lost five of his partners in one over after another before there was too much for him alone to achieve. With 48 needed off 24, he perished in the sixth over after the collapse began, dismissed fittingly by Morris who had begun the choke with his miserly spell. With Pietersen's fall, Daredevils' fate was sealed.
Bodi and McKenzie played influential roles after their team was put in. Bodi, the in-form batsman, was scratchy to begin with. His initial movement across gave him a hard time against the bounce from Morne Morkel and swing from Pathan.
The innings was set back by a wicket-maiden from birthday boy Umesh Yadav and Daredevils had edged ahead with Lions 63 for 3 at the end of the 11th over. In the interim, Bodi had started to get going, playing to his strengths against Pietersen's slow ones by lofting them past extra cover. He swung against Negi with the turn to launch him over deep square leg and built a solid association with the experienced McKenzie, who stayed on till the end. The pair ran well, McKenzie scored boundaries on both sides of the wicket, even pulled Morkel for six, in a stand worth 59 in 44 balls.
Though the attempted surge in the final overs was curtailed by Yadav's discipline, some indiscipline in the field earned Lions crucial runs. Yadav himself dropped a straightforward catch, so did Pietersen, and McKenzie squeezed as much as he could out of those two reprieves, eking out 46 off the last five. It proved more than sufficient.
Siddhartha Talya is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo