Hyderabad edge past Bengal in thriller
Hyderabad Heroes 162 for 7 (Binny 45, Ahmid 2-23) beat Royal Bengal Tigers 161 for 4 (Klusener 78*, Gavaskar 74) by three wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Hyderabad Heroes held their nerve in a close contest to give themselves a shot at defending their title. The semi-final jinx continued for Royal Bengal Tigers - this is their third defeat at the semi-final stage - and Hyderabad have now set up a best-of-three finale against the same team they beat last time, Lahore Badshahs.
As in their nine-wicket win over Bengal on Saturday, Hyderabad captain Chris Harris chose to field. The match seemed to be heading the same way as well, with Bengal slumping to 10 for 3 in 4.1 overs. But, unlike Saturday, Bengal made a splendid recovery with the help of two left-handers, Lance Klusener and Rohan Gavaskar.
Klusener had not been at his explosive best during the tournament, at times tied down by the pressure of quick wickets. The situation was similar, but today both Rohan Gavaskar and he ensured they didn't lose their wicket after settling down. Gavaskar was the one picking the odd boundary before Klusener took ten runs in two balls off Inder Shekhar Reddy's first over.
Nicky Boje and Reddy had choked Bengal on Saturday, and Gavaskar and Klusener seemed intent on not letting them take control. Both were hit for sixes over midwicket, and Harris was forced to bring himself and Stuart Binny into the attack. Harris went for four in his first over, but the next three fetched 33 as Bengal started to gain momentum.
Gavaskar took 13 off the 16th over from Alfred Absolem, celebrating his half-century with a six over long-on. Klusener, who had reached his fifty by then, took apart fellow South African Boje, with a four and six through midwicket and a lofted shot for four over extra cover. Gavaskar fell off the penultimate ball of the innings for 74, and Klusener set up a target of 162 with a final-ball six off Harris.
Wicketkeeper Ibrahim Khaleel, who was promoted to open the batting in place of Jimmy Maher in the last game, was retained as Maher's partner for this match. He set the chase in motion with a six over long-off off Andre Adams, and helped the next ball to the fine-leg boundary. Maher then hit consecutive fours off Lance Klusener, and Hyderabad were coasting at 38 for 0 after four overs. Klusener, though, removed them both in his next over.
The run-rate seemed to be creeping up with two new batsmen in, but the pressure was released when Gavaskar came on to bowl in the tenth over, off which 17 were scored. Ambati Rayudu was then stumped off left-arm spinner Shibsagar Singh, and Deep Dasgupta stumped Abdul Razzaq off Upul Chandana to leave Hyderabad at 92 for 4 after 12. Razzaq, demoted after a poor run at the top of the order, made 26 to follow up impressive figures of 4-0-16-1. Chandana dismissed Boje for his second scalp, but with 45 needed off 26, Binny took the chance and smashed two sixes.
A six-run over from Eklak Ahmid made it 27 from 18, but after four singles, Binny once again hit boundaries off the final two balls in Klusener's fourth over. With two wickets in his next over, including that of Man of the Match Binny, Ahmid kept his team's hopes alive. However, with a cool head in Harris at the crease, only three balls were required for the six runs to be scored in the 20th over; Harris sealing it with a pull to midwicket.