Southee and Boult demolish Lions
Northern Knights 170 for 6 (Flynn 53, Watling 53, Cheema 3-35) beat Lahore Lions 98 (Nasim 58, Southee 3-22, Boult 2-12) by 72 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
The match had begun in overcast conditions. Lahore Lions' bowlers were not able to enlist their help and conceded 170 and their batsmen became helpless witnesses to what could have happened. Tim Southee and Trent Boult had the ball zipping around to have Lions 19 for 5. The rest was simply a blur of pink as Northern Knights hurtled to a crushing 72-run victory.
Daniel Flynn, their captain, knew he had a new-ball attack that could dissect Test sides and his half-century coupled with BJ Watling's provided what ended up being a giant run-rate boost that primes them to make the main draw.
Their only roadblock on the day was Saad Nasim, who willed Lions towards some sense of dignity with a fifty of his own. He was the only Lahore batsman to reach double-figures, while his team was all out for 98, the tenth-lowest total in CLT20.
The slide began with a menacing yorker from Southee, one that swung in late, sneaked under Nasir Jamshed's plod and toppled his stumps. Boult ensured he wasn't left behind by setting up the other opener Ahmed Shehzad. Doubts were sowed when an inswinger had the batsman playing around his pads. The next ball was angled across, Shehzad's muddled footwork and feeble prod was safely pouched by the keeper. A contest was brewing, although it was limited to the two quicks.
Southee surged ahead by bouncing Mohammad Hafeez and had a little luck in undoing Umar Siddiq's promotion. Boult hit back with a rousing inswinger that rattled Akmal's stumps to bring the seamers' skirmish even. By this time Lions - who were five down - were so far behind the game that Southee and Boult's game of one-upmanship was the only thing that caught the crowd's attention.
The winner was declared in rather emphatic fashion, if again with a little bit of luck. Asif Raza slogged to deep midwicket, where Southee pulled off a spectacular relay catch to inflict further hurt on an already listless Lions display. A vast majority of their batsmen did not seem aware of the importance of run-rates and their teams' is languishing at -1.49. Except from Nasim, there was no attempt to weather the Knights' swing bowlers and lessen the margin of defeat.
Lions' intent was even worse on the field. Flynn was dropped on 26 and Watling got a life on 46 - and both of them were the reason Knights clattered 52 runs in the final five overs. The bowling looked a far cry from what Mumbai Indians had to face on Saturday night. Hafeez had been asked at the toss if the short turnaround from their match with Mumbai Indians might have an adverse effect. He had dead batted it, but judging by the events that transpired, there might have been a knock-on effect.
Akmal messed up a stumping in the second over and shelled a regulation catch in the 17th. Nasir Jamshed lost control of a catch, could not rein it in on the rebound and failed to realise a run-out opportunity all off the same ball. Adnan Rasool misjudged a chance at deep square leg and the ball lobbed over his head for a four. And during the slog overs, deep midwicket and long-on stood rooted to their spots while Scott Styris, a new batsman, stole three runs.
Meanwhile Knights, who had shelled five catches in six overs yesterday, erased that memory quite ruthlessly. Daniel Harris hunted a big hit from Nasim from long-on, flung himself to the right and almost conjured a catch out of nowhere. And the contrasts continued still. While Flynn employed desperate dives multiple times to safeguard his wicket, Rasool was caught napping by a direct hit from Flynn himself and Nasim too wandered thoughtlessly out of his crease to be run-out by the bowler to give the Lions chase a fitting end.
Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo