Davids half-century powers Cobras to victory
Andrew Puttick and the Cobras were clearly rattled by the security issue that delayed the start of the match by 100 minutes, shortening it to 17 overs a side. That didn't stop them from crushing Victoria by eight wickets, which also dumped Royal Challengers Bangalore out of the tournament. The result leaves Delhi Daredevils needing to win both their remaining games to keep the Indian challenge in the tournament alive; one loss will mean Victoria and Cobras go through. Despite the heavy defeat, Victoria are through to the semi-finals by virtue of their superior net run-rate (+0.911, Cobras are +0.532, Delhi are -1.100).
Herschelle Gibbs and Ryan Canning were missing but the match again showed off the depth and variety of batting talent in the Cobras line-up. JP Duminy had won them their first game against Bangalore, Puttick and Justin Ontong were the stars against Otago, and today it was the turn of Derek Brand (getting his first game) and Henry Davids to batter the opposition.
Puttick wasn't sure of his line-up at the toss, saying it would be a "surprise" as he didn't know which of his players had chosen to play after the security scare. Opening bowler Monde Zondeki settled the nerves after Victoria chose to bat, getting rid of the dangerous opening pair of Rob Quiney and Brad Hodge in the first three balls. Quiney swung the game's first delivery to fine leg, and Hodge was bowled by a ball that nipped back in.
Aiden Blizzard started a typically Australian counterattack. He muscled a couple of deliveries to the midwicket boundary, drilled a free-hit straight down the ground and a lofted on-drive pushed them to 28 after 3.4 overs. Fast bowler Rory Kleinveldt ended the cameo by getting Blizzard to mis-hit to extra cover.
After the seamers struck, the spin pair of Claude Henderson and Duminy started to tie down Victoria. David Hussey and captain Cameron White had stitched together a useful 32, and they were just shifting into top gear when Hussey slammed Duminy over long-on for six. Duminy again showed his partnership-breaking ability when he had Hussey edging to Kleinveldt at point.
He started to leak runs, though, firing a wide down the leg side which the keeper missed, and was then taken for 13 in his next over. At the other end, Henderson was tidy as usual, only giving away singles in his final three overs.
After White holed out in 14th over, it was left to Matthew Wade and Andrew McDonald to propel Victoria in the final stages. They were up to the task, piling on 31 in the final three overs giving the big crowd something to cheer as a Victoria victory was required to keep Bangalore in the race for a final four spot.
Brand however showed no signs of being awed by the big stage, clobbering five fours and a six in the first four overs to lop a run off the required-rate. He was particularly severe on Shane Harwood, ransacking 26 runs off two overs. There was slight relief for Victoria when, after some confused calling, Brand was run out in the fifth over by Clint McKay.
Enter Davids. He started with a delicate dab past short third man for four, one of the few soft touches in a power-packed half-century. Left-arm spinner Jon Holland was hammered for a couple of leg-side sixes in his first two overs, bringing the asking rate below a run a ball. With Duminy sensibly giving him most of the strike in an unbroken 88-run stand, Davids took Cobras to a comprehensive victory that silenced the home crowd.
The fans had showed up despite the security concerns which returned to haunt cricket earlier in the day. An Under-22 cricketer staying at the venue was detained by the Bangalore police in the afternoon in connection with a suspected presence of explosives before being released. The match was given the go-ahead only after a thorough check of the ground by the police.
Siddarth Ravindran is a sub-editor at Cricinfo