Victoria lose but qualify to next stage
The Twenty20 format is supposed to be about big hits and large crowds. There wasn't much of either at the Feroz Shah Kotla as Victoria qualified for the next stage despite losing to Wayamba, who were eliminated in a low-scoring scrap on a sluggish pitch. Both teams competed in the go-slow stakes: Wayamba making the fewest runs in the Powerplay (16) in Champions League Twenty20, and Victoria taking until the 13th over to reach 50.
After a disciplined performance from their bowlers had kept Waymba to 118, Victoria were never really in danger of elimination, as they needed only 84 to make it through. The Sri Lankan side remained in contention till the start of the 18th over of the second innings: Victoria were still 11 adrift of assured qualification, but allrounder Andrew McDonald put the issue to rest by powerfully driving the first three balls of legspinner Kaushal Lokuarachchi for four.
The first inkling that Wayamba weren't going to be easily rolled over was in the third ball of the chase. Chanaka Welegedara pulled off an astonishing reflex caught-and-bowled, plucking a full-blooded Rob Quiney drive low to his left, changing direction in his follow-through.
Victoria seemed to be back in cruise control when Brad Hodge slammed a six over long-on in the fourth over and Aiden Blizzard swiped a boundary to midwicket three balls later. However, Blizzard was bowled next delivery by Welegedara, bringing together Hodge and David Hussey, the two leading run-getters in Twenty20s.
They hardly looked like the most accomplished of Twenty20 batsmen, though, as Wayamba's attack maintained a disciplined line and length. Much-improved left-arm spinner Rangana Herath, in particular, sent down some shooters, balls which barely bounced after pitching on a length. Hussey scratched around for a 22-ball 7, and was lucky to not be stumped when stand-in keeper Mahela Jayawardene missed a low delivery from Herath. Hodge batted through the innings, but never really came to terms with the conditions, finishing on an unbeaten 44.
Wayamba's batsmen had similar problems, hardly displaying any power in the Powerplays. The top order mistimed plenty of strokes, and adding to the lack of boundaries was panicky running; several suicidal singles were pinched but Victoria just couldn't get a direct hit.
After Mahela Udawatte was caught plumb in front by Peter Siddle in the second over, Wayamba sent in Michael Vandort, a man with the uninspiring Twenty20 strike-rate of 89.38. He struggled to match even that for much of his innings, eating up 17 Powerplay deliveries for his first four runs. Giving him company was Jeevantha Kulatunga, who while not playing fluently, was certainly more at ease than Vandort.
It was Kulatunga who provided some momentum in Wayamba's best phase of the innings: the five overs immediately after the Powerplay, in which they scored 47 runs with some crisp straight hitting. Vandort also got going once the spinners were on, and the pair took their side to 85 for 1 after 14 overs.
Just when it seemed Wayamba could make the most of the one advantage of the initial slowness, the many wickets they had in hand, the batting unravelled. Clint McKay, the star against Delhi Daredevils, took the wind out of the opposition again, removing both set batsmen in one over. His fast-bowling team-mates, Shane Harwood and Andrew McDonald matched him, by snaring two each in an over, leaving Wayamba at 105 for 7.
At that stage it seemed the match would turn out to be another demonstration of the might of the Australian domestic teams. However, Wayamba fought back splendidly to pull off a surprise win. That didn't stop Victoria from making it to round two, to which both Australian sides have carried over two points as well.
Siddarth Ravindran is a sub-editor at Cricinfo