Clark and Lee bowl NSW into semis
On a pitch that offered bounce and some movement, Stuart Clark led a disciplined bowling performance to restrict Somerset to a below-par 111 which New South Wales knocked off without breaking a sweat in Hyderabad. With this crushing win NSW have joined their Australian counterparts Victoria in the Champions League semi-finals.
It was a must-win game for NSW and they came to the party in style. Brett Lee bowled with fire, Clark was as canny as ever and David Warner unleashed hell as NSW sealed the chase in 11.5 overs. Warner got them off to an explosive start, carting boundaries all around the ground. There were couple of cut shots that stood out for his dexterity in finding the gap in a packed off-side field but the highlight was a six off Omari Banks, the offspinner. Warner backed away a touch and was actually beaten in flight but lunged out to chip it all the way over the extra-cover boundary. While the batsmen indulged themselves, the win was set up by some fine bowling from Clark and Lee.
Clark was steady as ever with his back-of-a-length deliveries, getting them to cut either way. He was introduced into the attack in the fifth over and swung into action immediately with a double strike. He induced Craig Kieswetter into holing out to mid-on and had Justin Langer swinging without control to deep midwicket.
In the next over, Clark got one to kick up from short of a length and had James Hildreth top-edging an attempted pull to fine leg. Arul Suppiah was run out in the same over and Somerset slipped from 24 for 0 to 39 for 4, a position from which they never recovered. Clark could have had another wicket but he dropped Zander de Bruyn off his bowling.
It might have been Clark who did the major damage, but the platform was laid by a hostile spell from Lee, who didn't shy from using short deliveries and troubled both the openers. He got away swing and bounce as he went hard at them. Doug Bollinger gave away a few fours but Lee yielded just four runs from the first two overs. The pressure eventually told on the openers who tried to break free against Clark and threw their wickets away. Lee returned in the end overs to pick up a wicket and kept a lid on the scoring.
This tournament is the farewell song of Langer, who is retiring from competitive cricket after this game, but nothing has gone right for him. The reflexes seems to have slowed down and today, he was beaten for pace on quite a few occasions. However, there was one little moment that reminded you of the past: Bollinger had served him a short delivery on the free hit and Langer swiveled to unfurl a crunchy pull to the midwicket boundary.
But there was little else to celebrate for Langer and his men as the ruthless NSW machine rolled along without any trouble.
Sriram Veera is a staff writer at Cricinfo