Abbas Ali stars in Giants' six-wicket win
Delhi Giants 116 for 4 (Abbas Ali 64*) beat Mumbai Champs 115 for 4 (Astle 32*, Murtaza 2-16)
Abbas Ali smashed an unbeaten 64 as the Delhi Giants easily chased down the Mumbai Champs' 115 at the Tau Devi Lal stadium in Panchkula. There was more bad news for the Champs as Brian Lara, who captained them in the first edition, was ruled out of the tournament after failing to recover from a left-arm fracture.
After they had posted a modest total, the Champs' hopes were raised as they took two early wickets, including the big one of captain Marvan Atapattu. Ali, though, was unconcerned by the loss of wickets as he plundered 16 runs off a Tino Best over, the highlight of which was a huge six over long-off. Ali, who was the third-highest scorer in the inaugural edition of the ICL last year, put on a 41-run stand with Avishka Gunawardene for the third wicket.
Left-arm spinner Avinash Yadav broke the partnership with his first ball, foxing Gunawardene with an arm ball. Former Australian fast bowler Michael Kasprowicz, playing his first ICL game, struck another blow in the next over by getting Abhinav Bali to edge through to the wicketkeeper. However, there were no further alarms for the Giants as Nic Pothas, the former South African wicketkeeper, and Ali guided them to a six-wicket win.
Earlier, the Champs, after opting to bat, turned in an unconvincing batting performance with several of their batsmen getting starts but not scoring at the rate demanded by the Twenty20 game. After the openers put on a brisk 41-run stand, former South African allrounder Dale Benkenstein struck, getting Saman Jayantha to hole out to Shane Bond at long-off.
Only 20 runs came off the next five overs and even captain Nathan Astle was unable to force the pace. With the runs drying up, the pressure told and Kiran Powar and Shreyas Khanolkar fell in quick succession. Astle lifted a couple of sixes off T Sudhindra but the Giants gave away only seven runs in the final two overs. Ali then backed up the good work of the bowlers to ensure the Giants opened their campaign with a comfortable victory.