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The best performances in the Champions League came from teenagers, from established Indian stars, and from forty-somethings
October 7, 2013
MS Dhoni63* off 19 v Sunrisers Hyderabad
The Dhoni rampage that included an over Thisara Perera will be desperately trying to forget. At the start, a typically brutal Dhoni hit over long-on was sandwiched by two wides. The over ended with four consecutive sixes - over square leg, over point, over long-on and over third man and ended up costing 34 runs. Perera will be ruing Ishant Sharma's misfield off the second legitimate ball of the over, which allowed Dhoni to hurry back for the second and regain the strike. Dhoni went on to his half-century in 16 balls, the quickest in the Champions League - and eighth fastest in all T20 - as Chennai Super Kings accelerated past 200 and out of Sunrisers' reach.
Sunil Narine4 for 9 v Sunrisers Hyderabad
Narine is a dead cert to be a millionaire at next year's IPL auction. He's had two outstanding IPL seasons and his mystery hasn't faded in the CLT20 either. The success over the past two years means his reputation now precedes him, and teams are happy to play out his four overs and target the other bowlers. His teams turn to him at every crucial juncture. Defending 160 against Sunrisers, T&T brought him on in the 5th over to rein in a strong start and he delivered with a first-ball wicket. There was another in a two-over spell in the middle of the innings, before he signed off with wickets off his final two deliveries in the 18th over. The only runs he conceded were nine singles.
Sanju Samson60 off 33 v Mumbai Indians
Once Mumbai ran up a total in excess of 200 in the final, most people thought the game was as good as over. Not 18-year-old Sanju Samson though. Walking in after the first wicket fell in the first over, a fearless array of strokes kept Royals in the chase as the asking-rate of 10 was matched for more than half the innings. It began with an effortless straight hit for six off Harbhajan Singh and he peppered the arc between long-on and midwicket as Royals reached 117 for 1 in the 12th over, but even with heavy-hitters like Shane Watson to follow, they couldn't complete the victory.
Harbhajan Singh4 for 32 v Rajasthan Royals
Harbhajan Singh may no longer be among India's first-choice spinners but he reminded the selectors once more of his big-match temperament, in the final. After Samson's onslaught had helped Royals keep pace, Watson had begun with a monstrous hit for six. Harbhajan removed the dangerman though with a straighter one that Watson top-edged towards wide long-on. Then came the over that completely transformed the game: the well-set Ajinkya Rahane and two big hitters in Stuart Binny and Kevon Cooper were all packed off and for the second time in three years a single Harbhajan over had put the title within Mumbai's grasp.
Neil Broom117* off 56 v Perth Scorchers
Before the match against Perth Scorchers, Broom's Twenty20 career stats were middling: 65 matches, average 21.23, strike-rate 112.08. So when Hamish Rutherford (career strike-rate 143.89) and star batsman Brendon McCullum were dismissed cheaply, Perth were a satisfied lot. No way could they have expected what came next. Broom played the T20 innings of his life with nine fours and eight sixes flowing as he ran up 117 off a mere 56 deliveries. Hard to pick a highlight from that smash-a-thon but the three successive sixes in the 19th over to bring up his century and reach the highest score over five seasons of the CLT20 will be up there. No wonder he has such a devoted fan club back home.
Pravin Tambe3 for 10 v Chennai Super Kings
Pravin Tambe's rise provided one of the most heart-warming cricketing stories in recent years. For a retirement-age cricketer to get his chance to play alongside the all-time greats is a dream, leave alone ending up as the bowler of the tournament. With his skiddy legbreaks and accuracy, Tambe proved difficult for most batsmen. Thoughts that his bowling would fall apart under the pressure of a big match were brushed aside as he turned in 3 for 10 against the mighty Super Kings in the semi-final. It included the prized wicket of Suresh Raina and two other vial cogs, S Badrinath and Dwayne Bravo. He was Man of the Match as Royals pulled off a giant-killing act and marched into the final.
Siddarth Ravindran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Siddarth Ravindran
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