Jets crash out after thriller
Chandigarh Lions 151 for 6 beat Delhi Jets 148 for 4 (Abbas 57) by 4 wickets
Chandigarh Lions crashed Delhi Jets by four wickets, in a pulsating clash, on a misty evening, to set up a million-dollar ICL final clash with Chennai Superstars on Sunday evening. Chris Cairns and Andrew Hall compiled an unbeaten 48-run stand for the seventh wicket to silence the mounting challenge of the Jets, who had earlier put on 148.
Needing four off the final over Hall wrapped up matters in style by stepping out and lofting JP Yadav over cover and past the chasing fielders before jumping ecstatically in the air and swing his bat like a warrior who had conquered the big prize.
It wasn't a cakewalk by any means. With five overs to go the Lions were left to get 47 off 30 balls. A flurry of wickets had put them in a spot. Manish Sharma was bowled trying to cut left-arm spinner Ali Murtaza and matters got worse when Dinesh Mongia, beginning to attack after a watchful beginning, became the sixth wicket to fall. Going for a big one, Mongia was cleaned up by medium-pacer Abid Nabi, leaving the Lions with a steep target.
It was an occasion made for Cairns, who was joined by the energetic Hall. Stepping out against left-armer Shalabh Shrivastava, Hall swatted one past the midwicket fence. Cairns got his first four with a lofted drive over the vacant cover region and he improvised in the very next over by smashing Nabi for a six over wide long-off. The duo had reduced the target to 22 off 16 balls. Hall brought it down to 15 off 12 as he stepped out and flat-batted Nabi into the straight boundary.
Atapattu turned to spin in the penultimate over. It seemed to have worked as Murtaza conceded just three runs off his first five balls but a wide was followed by a loose one, allowing Hall to charge down the track and loft over long-on. In the next over Hall settled matters for the good. The Jets would rue the 20 extras they gave away apart from the sloppiness in the field. They had checked the Lions progress at 60 for 4 but couldn't close the game out. With the heavy dew playing a part, not only was the ball slipping from the bowlers' grasp but the game from the Jets too.
Earlier Marvan Atapattu's decision to bat first appeared to have misfired with the Jets having take-off trouble, struggling at 57 for 2 at the halfway mark. Someone had step on the pedal and Abbas Ali, grandson of former Indian opener Mushtaq, took charge, clattering Cairns for two big sixes, one over long-on and then in the next high over square leg. A left-hander with a strong on-side game, Abbas was not shy to take on the might of the Lions bowlers, including the delicious medium-pace offerings from Cairns.
Abbas brought his first half-century of the tournament and his 59-run stand with TP Sudhindra formed the backbone of Jets innings. He deservedly won the Man-of-the-Match award but could only watch as the Lions roared into the final.
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at Cricinfo