Lions v Mumbai, CLT20 2010, Johannesburg September 10, 2010

Lions reclaim lost loyalties

Initially Mumbai had the crowd's support, but by the end, by the sheer weight of their performance, the Lions were on the path to winning back the hearts their home fans
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It could have been the mighty presence of Sachin Tendulkar or the effects of IPL branding, which has people from all corners sprouting loyalty to some of its teams. Either way, Mumbai Indians must have felt they were playing a home game in their Champions League Twenty20 opener on Friday night. Pity the wrong team won.

The Wanderers is by no means the Wankhede, the DY Patil or the Brabourne - for a start, those venues are usually full when Mumbai play - but it welcomed the IPL runners-up with open arms. A paltry 15,500 people turned up for the first match, less than half the stadium's capacity but most of them arrived united on one front - their support for Mumbai.

The reason? Apart from wanting to cheer stars, the truth is that it's been difficult being a Lions supporter in the past three seasons. Since winning the 2006/07 Standard Bank Pro20, the team has been in free-fall. They've finished last in five out of nine competitions including two MTN40s, two Pro20s and a SuperSport Series, and have finished in the top two of any competition only once. The once-mighty sporting province became known as the whipping boys of the local league and the running joke was that they should be renamed the kittens. Crowds in domestic competitions, which are scant anyway, have been even thinner at the Lions' den in recent times and the people of Johannesburg had all but lost interest in domestic cricket.

It should hardly be surprising that they didn't come out in droves or that those who did attend the match were there to see the other team. In some ways it was reminiscent of the Apartheid days when non-white supporters would attend rugby matches and cheer for New Zealand instead of the Springboks. This crowd had no political reasons to not get behind the home team, they simply saw something more attractive in the other side.

The Lions' batsmen started nervously and the needless confusion that led to Alviro Petersen's run-out may have resulted in moans of "much of the same" from those that know the Lions well. By the end of the sixth over, with the score on 39 for 2, the rustling restlessness of a group that sensed a collapse was obvious. Then, Harbhajan Singh came on to bowl and the Bullring shook to its core with delight at seeing another hero.

They hardly noticed Jonathan Vandiar redeem himself, after the race with Petersen to the same end, with his highest score in Twenty20s or the favourite son of the team, Neil McKenzie, scoring a classy, confident half-century. At the end of their innings, the Lions had done as much as they could. They had put their third highest total in the format, 186, on the board. It was the same score that helped them overcome the Titans in the semi-final of the Standard Bank Pro20 competition, and qualify for the CLT20. They had also reached the highest score against an IPL team in the CLT20's short history.

Ten minutes later, the Lions started back-pedalling so fast, they may have ended up in Durban. Bowling to Tendulkar was going to be no easy task and the Lions let the crowd indulge as the master marched on. Tendulkar survived a loud Ethan O'Reilly appeal and two run-out chances, and while he was on fire, the crowd lit up. They cheered his every move, praised his every run and worshipped each of his nine fours with their decibels. As long as he was at the crease there was no doubt about which team the Wanderers wanted to win.

Then, the tide started turning. The relatively unknown Shane Burger grabbed his Big Mac with all the extras when he deceived Tendulkar with a slower ball. The Lions had started to roar and the people couldn't help but join in. It might have been the spark they saw when Burger, fizzing like an exploding cold drink, beamed after sending Tendulkar on his way, opening the tiniest window of opportunity.

With four overs to go and Mumbai needing 47, a sequence of clapping and the chanting of "Lions" was heard from a small section of the crowd. They were being coaxed over. But, the first ball of Burger's next over was slapped for six by Kieron Pollard and the amateur cheer-leading subsided. A four and another six followed before Burger dished up the supersize version, a perfect yorker, to dismiss Pollard.

"Towards the end of the match, the crowd really got on our side," said Petersen and he was right. The bunch of people watching the last three overs appeared a completely different one from those who had seen the 37 before as they now suddenly remembered that they were on the Highveld supporting the Lions. Zander de Bruyn and Frylinck, who bowled in that period, got the best of it, but the message was clear: the Lions have put themselves on the path to winning back the hearts and minds of their own fans. Suddenly, it felt very good to be behind them.

Firdose Moonda is a freelance writer based in Johannesburg

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Apache_Indian on September 12, 2010, 4:08 GMT

    @ Fayss ....Okay, here is the REASON why England's domestic teams are not participating. (some scheduling problem)

    http://www.cricinfo.com/t20champions2010/content/story/460432.html ... Well don't know about Pakistan.

  • Apache_Indian on September 12, 2010, 3:54 GMT

    @ Fayss ...Exactly ! This is what I was wondering yesterday that why Pak, Eng & Bangladesh teams are not in this league. Does anyone know what is the procedure to decide that which domestic team can qualify / participate ?

  • Rohan1 on September 11, 2010, 15:42 GMT

    The only reason I even bother to watch rubbish like T20 is to watch Sachin Tendulkar bat. The moment he's out I change the channel to something less farcical.

  • Fayss on September 11, 2010, 14:17 GMT

    I failed to understand what kind of "champions trophy' is it??? Pakistan, the finalist of worldcup 2007, winners of 2009, and semi-finalist of 2010 has a very tough domestic side named 'Sialkot Stallions' and the other is 'Karachi Dolphins'. The other country England, the winner of latest 20 20 worldcup is not participating... they've got their winners as well...

    Two worldcup winning countries are out of the tournament and the remainder are fighting for champions trophy...!!! Any non-cricketing person would certainly gonna ask that which of these team's country actually won the latest worldcup... the answer would be INDIA but that was 3 years ago... and thats ridiculous

  • sahir786 on September 11, 2010, 10:32 GMT

    i really hope & pray that none of the indian franchises win anything in south africa. I am sick of the guys who cannot hit a ball when playing for india talk big in programmes & show they are a kind of superstars . God better saves indian cricket becoz none of the present generation cricketers are worried about their performance for the national team becoz they are getting money fame from ipl so do hell with country. How shame full........

  • NISH67 on September 11, 2010, 9:35 GMT

    Well done to the 'lions ' and well played ! The better team on the day led by undoubtedly the better captain won . Tendulkar was woeful as captain . His inexplicable non use of Ryan Mclaren - one of the 4 overseas players in the team - in the team , mind you as a bowling all rounder in place of Dwayne Bravo was mind boggling to say the least , whilst the use of Satish and Duminy whose combined 2 overs cost 28 runs was equally questionable . Mumbai would have won the last IPL and done better in the first edition and also won yesterday if they had a different captain . Tendulkar may be a world class batsman but as a captain he is totally clueless and India were lucky that Ganguly took over from him as captain in 2001 and built the team for the likes of Kumble and Dhoni to carry on ..

  • randikaayya on September 11, 2010, 9:31 GMT

    Tendulkar is a competent bat but a good cricketing brain is a must to lead a team to victory. Any team to victory! Especially one consisting an entire assemblage of players bought in an auction with hardly any loyalties and geographic backdrop.

  • on September 11, 2010, 9:16 GMT

    good bating by sachin but more poor captainship by him... now toh i doubt k was this match fixed or wt ? sachin used his bowler worst .... as sachin wanted to make them more than 160 .. and they made more than tht ,,,, poor fielding and poor empiring tooo ..... after all match fixing money goes to every where frm board to empire,,,,,,so enjoy fixed match of champions trophy

  • PureTom on September 11, 2010, 9:06 GMT

    In response to cricfan24. An inferior "Team" will often beat superior cricketers to use your own words. The difference between these two sides that counted is that one is a cricket team and the other is a business concern. And Mister Vice you make it sound as if the polite thing for the SA players to do is bow down in awe of their rivals, roll over and give them the victory, doesn't sound very competitive to me. Maybe you should try offering someone a 20 if you want the games to be played on reputation alone :P

  • Apache_Indian on September 11, 2010, 9:01 GMT

    I'm looking forward to the next matches. Hope, Jayawardane, one of my favorite players, fires. And in 2nd match, it would be interesting to see how Dhoni's team plays against unseen players of Central District. I will not be surprised if C District wins. Never underestimate any team is what I have learnt :D

  • Apache_Indian on September 12, 2010, 4:08 GMT

    @ Fayss ....Okay, here is the REASON why England's domestic teams are not participating. (some scheduling problem)

    http://www.cricinfo.com/t20champions2010/content/story/460432.html ... Well don't know about Pakistan.

  • Apache_Indian on September 12, 2010, 3:54 GMT

    @ Fayss ...Exactly ! This is what I was wondering yesterday that why Pak, Eng & Bangladesh teams are not in this league. Does anyone know what is the procedure to decide that which domestic team can qualify / participate ?

  • Rohan1 on September 11, 2010, 15:42 GMT

    The only reason I even bother to watch rubbish like T20 is to watch Sachin Tendulkar bat. The moment he's out I change the channel to something less farcical.

  • Fayss on September 11, 2010, 14:17 GMT

    I failed to understand what kind of "champions trophy' is it??? Pakistan, the finalist of worldcup 2007, winners of 2009, and semi-finalist of 2010 has a very tough domestic side named 'Sialkot Stallions' and the other is 'Karachi Dolphins'. The other country England, the winner of latest 20 20 worldcup is not participating... they've got their winners as well...

    Two worldcup winning countries are out of the tournament and the remainder are fighting for champions trophy...!!! Any non-cricketing person would certainly gonna ask that which of these team's country actually won the latest worldcup... the answer would be INDIA but that was 3 years ago... and thats ridiculous

  • sahir786 on September 11, 2010, 10:32 GMT

    i really hope & pray that none of the indian franchises win anything in south africa. I am sick of the guys who cannot hit a ball when playing for india talk big in programmes & show they are a kind of superstars . God better saves indian cricket becoz none of the present generation cricketers are worried about their performance for the national team becoz they are getting money fame from ipl so do hell with country. How shame full........

  • NISH67 on September 11, 2010, 9:35 GMT

    Well done to the 'lions ' and well played ! The better team on the day led by undoubtedly the better captain won . Tendulkar was woeful as captain . His inexplicable non use of Ryan Mclaren - one of the 4 overseas players in the team - in the team , mind you as a bowling all rounder in place of Dwayne Bravo was mind boggling to say the least , whilst the use of Satish and Duminy whose combined 2 overs cost 28 runs was equally questionable . Mumbai would have won the last IPL and done better in the first edition and also won yesterday if they had a different captain . Tendulkar may be a world class batsman but as a captain he is totally clueless and India were lucky that Ganguly took over from him as captain in 2001 and built the team for the likes of Kumble and Dhoni to carry on ..

  • randikaayya on September 11, 2010, 9:31 GMT

    Tendulkar is a competent bat but a good cricketing brain is a must to lead a team to victory. Any team to victory! Especially one consisting an entire assemblage of players bought in an auction with hardly any loyalties and geographic backdrop.

  • on September 11, 2010, 9:16 GMT

    good bating by sachin but more poor captainship by him... now toh i doubt k was this match fixed or wt ? sachin used his bowler worst .... as sachin wanted to make them more than 160 .. and they made more than tht ,,,, poor fielding and poor empiring tooo ..... after all match fixing money goes to every where frm board to empire,,,,,,so enjoy fixed match of champions trophy

  • PureTom on September 11, 2010, 9:06 GMT

    In response to cricfan24. An inferior "Team" will often beat superior cricketers to use your own words. The difference between these two sides that counted is that one is a cricket team and the other is a business concern. And Mister Vice you make it sound as if the polite thing for the SA players to do is bow down in awe of their rivals, roll over and give them the victory, doesn't sound very competitive to me. Maybe you should try offering someone a 20 if you want the games to be played on reputation alone :P

  • Apache_Indian on September 11, 2010, 9:01 GMT

    I'm looking forward to the next matches. Hope, Jayawardane, one of my favorite players, fires. And in 2nd match, it would be interesting to see how Dhoni's team plays against unseen players of Central District. I will not be surprised if C District wins. Never underestimate any team is what I have learnt :D

  • Apache_Indian on September 11, 2010, 8:48 GMT

    @ gr8_sachin_fan .... Chill mate. Yup, he could have been given out but this is part of the game. Well I enjoyed his 69 off 42 balls. And it was MI Vs Lions, not Sachin Vs Lions. When he got out, team was in good position to win with plenty of wickets in hand & Pollard still to come. As I said earlier either Pollard or Duminy should have finished the job. And I'm sure you would be knowing about this format of Cricket better than me. Anything can happen. Remember how Hussey took away the match from Pakistan single handedly in T-20 WC semi-final ? And about his vacations & spending time with family...well what can I say about it ..On the tour to Zimbabwe, not only Sachin but 9 regular players were given rest. And in tri-series even Gautam, Zaheer and Bhajji were given rest. Even I'm disappointed with yesterday's lose but you can't expect Sachin to win every match for you. If MI had fielded well, MI would have won the match quite easily. But as they say anything can happen in Cricket.

  • SLPILOT on September 11, 2010, 8:44 GMT

    I think this CLT20 is a big, big fast ............ If an article I just read is true ......... all the champions who were actually champions in their own countries are in Group A and the only champion team in Group B is Gayana. Also Gayana being a champion is rated G5 and all the runners up teams are rated higher than Gayana in that Group. If this tournemant is good and fair, then all the champions and runners up teams from each country will be playing and India wont get special prefferencial to play a 3rd team. On what basis is India given a 3rd team???????

    So, till such time it fair, this CLT20 will die a natural death.

  • SLPILOT on September 11, 2010, 8:35 GMT

    I think this CLT20 is a big, big fast ............ If an article I just read is true ......... all the champions who were actually champions in their own countries are in Group A and the only champion team in Group B is Gayana. Also Gayana being a champion is rated G5 and all the runners up teams are rated higher than Gayana in that Group. If this tournemant is good and fair, then all the champions and runners up teams from each country will be playing and India wont get special prefferencial to play a 3rd team. On what basis is India given a 3rd team???????

    So, till such time it fair, this CLT20 will die a natural death.

  • Neil247 on September 11, 2010, 8:26 GMT

    LOL. The best part of it all is that even after 21 yrs the comments and general tone ALWAYS revolves around Tendulkar. I think the poor anti Tendulkar bashers too now realize that he has transcended ALL his contemporaries and is just about on Par with Bradman as the greatest batsman of all time...this is what prompts their even more hysterical comments and desperate attempts to highligts his failures ,real or perceived. Amazing really-21 yrs later, 21 other players in the game and always, always it is always Tendulkar. Hats off to the greatest batsman of all time!!!

  • Vijay_Shanbhag on September 11, 2010, 8:19 GMT

    Fickle format, fickle fans!! Let us see how long the fan following lasts. Somehow T20 has changed the old but romantic version of cricket.

  • gr8_sachin_fan on September 11, 2010, 7:54 GMT

    @Apache_India: What did you enjoy about Sachin's Batting? That he got to play 3 innings (thanks to Ashoka D'silva and the dropped catch) and yet once again could not win a match for his team. Or did you enjoy the fact that he was vacationing with his family and watching tennis matches when india was getting beaten by Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, New Zealand etc but is promptly here to answer the call of money?

  • tharinduw on September 11, 2010, 7:44 GMT

    Mumbai Indians lost because of POOR CAPTAINCY by Sachin. . . He`s 1 of the greatest bastsmen of all time but he is a very bad captain. . Why does he leave 3 overs remaining of the only soutafrican fast bowler who bowled a superb 1st over and try out bits and pieces bowlers. .. Makes no sense .. This isn`t the 1st time he has left out key bowlers with over remaining at the end of an ainnings and the opposition has put a challenging total when it could have been avoided with the use of the best bowlers. . . They should have won the match .. . Damn it. . I`m dissappointed in MI. . Especially Sachin .. . Ver poor captaincy. . If MI select some one else to do the captaincy, they might win this Champions league as they are have the best team. . . Sad to see them underpoerform when it all down to bad captaincy. . .

  • van_hauz on September 11, 2010, 7:10 GMT

    @mohsin9975 - The LBW was plumb. The umpire, it could be argued missed the point of impact as both Sachin and the ball were moving, but at that level, you've got to see those things. As for your next comment, mohsin9975, Sachin's strategy of not using the full quota was stupid but creating suspicions? Seems unlikely considering he's not Pakistani

  • Dazzling_Devil on September 11, 2010, 5:38 GMT

    Its 'Champions' League. Every team has reached this stage because they have been superb in their own domestic season. Just becuase you have not seen the Lions on TV doesnt make them 'Underdogs'. Great start by Lions! :D

  • SachinIsTheGreatest on September 11, 2010, 4:38 GMT

    I agree with the comments that this is not an "upset". You have to see the difference between the other teams and the IPL teams. The domestic teams play all year around with a set of players so strengths, weaknesses and roles are identified. The IPL teams come together only for 45 days a years and then the CLT. It is not easy for them to gel quickly as a unit.

    It was a good start to the tournament though. The game had good batting, expert bowling and wonderful fielding(only from the Lions)!!

  • Apache_Indian on September 11, 2010, 4:25 GMT

    Congrats to Lions. But I failed to understand why Ryan McLaren was in the team ? He was used only for 1 over. One thing is for sure he can't win you matches with his bat. He is a kind of batsman who will score say 30-balls 30. Mumbai Indians surely missed Saurabh Tiway but this is not an excuse. Sachin had done his job. Either Pollard or Duminy should have finished it. I think, the team combination was also not right. Bravo will do the same what we expect from McLaren, in bowling. And in batting, Bravo can hit the ball a long way and also can build the innings if needed. And what can I say about fielding ? It couldn't have been worse. :| I hope S Tiwary gets fit soon. Disappointed with Sachin's captaincy but his batting was awesome. Cherished every moment of it. Bets of luck for the next matches.

  • CricFan24 on September 11, 2010, 4:18 GMT

    The complete lack of cricketing knowledge by "fans" such as le_stephenois is stupefying. It would take a staggering level of ignorance to claim that the Lions actually had better quality players than the Indians....The REAL issue is the Format of the game, equivalent to say a tie breaker in tennis. This considerably levels the playing field. And THAT is the reason why on any given day the chances of an inferior team beating superior cricketers is vastly greater than in ODIs or Tests.

  • on September 11, 2010, 2:12 GMT

    Allas nice way to kickoff hahaha mumbai lost to lions

  • le_stephenois on September 11, 2010, 1:38 GMT

    why is this an upset? It was an upset when IPL teams lost in tour games, in warm up games and then the Champions League last year. Maybe this was an upset for you but for the rest of the world it was just the expected result,

  • on September 11, 2010, 1:18 GMT

    Can't feel bad for an underdog win !

  • raggaboy on September 11, 2010, 0:18 GMT

    I remember Petersen's words- cricket is played on the day not on paper.

    I think a lot of people here forget the truth of such an adage.

    This is just the first of many upsets to come.

    Watch out for the Amazon Conquerors!

  • mohsin9975 on September 10, 2010, 22:17 GMT

    Yes sachin did get the pseudohome advantage when the umpire denied the lions a plumb lbw decision. Sachin not using full quota of overs from his main bowlers does create suspicions of .,...U know what.

  • _NEUTRAL_Fan_ on September 10, 2010, 21:31 GMT

    Great to see the "underdog" win. It was a pretty good game with some twists and turns. Yet again, it was shown that FIELDING IS IMPORTANT and apart from the SRT drop, the Lions fielded impressively. Going by last yrs. competition, I refuse to call a team never seen b-4 "underdog", some teams are better ADVERTISED or have more INTERNATIONAL players but that should not automatically qualify them as favorites unless they made the semis or finals of the previous tourney! Ind struggled twice in a row in WC T-20, so one could say that they, like the SA teams have to prove themselves. Aus made the finals of WC T-20 and won the tourney last yr, so they should be under pressure to perform (stil I myself won't say "favorites"). It's a team sport so being well advertised or having alot of stars doesn't mean u'r the best team. Look at REAL MADRID FC. Alot of people say W.I. 70's-80's and Aus 2000's won because of individuals alone...Not true! Its about pulling the talent together! Well done Lions.

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  • _NEUTRAL_Fan_ on September 10, 2010, 21:31 GMT

    Great to see the "underdog" win. It was a pretty good game with some twists and turns. Yet again, it was shown that FIELDING IS IMPORTANT and apart from the SRT drop, the Lions fielded impressively. Going by last yrs. competition, I refuse to call a team never seen b-4 "underdog", some teams are better ADVERTISED or have more INTERNATIONAL players but that should not automatically qualify them as favorites unless they made the semis or finals of the previous tourney! Ind struggled twice in a row in WC T-20, so one could say that they, like the SA teams have to prove themselves. Aus made the finals of WC T-20 and won the tourney last yr, so they should be under pressure to perform (stil I myself won't say "favorites"). It's a team sport so being well advertised or having alot of stars doesn't mean u'r the best team. Look at REAL MADRID FC. Alot of people say W.I. 70's-80's and Aus 2000's won because of individuals alone...Not true! Its about pulling the talent together! Well done Lions.

  • mohsin9975 on September 10, 2010, 22:17 GMT

    Yes sachin did get the pseudohome advantage when the umpire denied the lions a plumb lbw decision. Sachin not using full quota of overs from his main bowlers does create suspicions of .,...U know what.

  • raggaboy on September 11, 2010, 0:18 GMT

    I remember Petersen's words- cricket is played on the day not on paper.

    I think a lot of people here forget the truth of such an adage.

    This is just the first of many upsets to come.

    Watch out for the Amazon Conquerors!

  • on September 11, 2010, 1:18 GMT

    Can't feel bad for an underdog win !

  • le_stephenois on September 11, 2010, 1:38 GMT

    why is this an upset? It was an upset when IPL teams lost in tour games, in warm up games and then the Champions League last year. Maybe this was an upset for you but for the rest of the world it was just the expected result,

  • on September 11, 2010, 2:12 GMT

    Allas nice way to kickoff hahaha mumbai lost to lions

  • CricFan24 on September 11, 2010, 4:18 GMT

    The complete lack of cricketing knowledge by "fans" such as le_stephenois is stupefying. It would take a staggering level of ignorance to claim that the Lions actually had better quality players than the Indians....The REAL issue is the Format of the game, equivalent to say a tie breaker in tennis. This considerably levels the playing field. And THAT is the reason why on any given day the chances of an inferior team beating superior cricketers is vastly greater than in ODIs or Tests.

  • Apache_Indian on September 11, 2010, 4:25 GMT

    Congrats to Lions. But I failed to understand why Ryan McLaren was in the team ? He was used only for 1 over. One thing is for sure he can't win you matches with his bat. He is a kind of batsman who will score say 30-balls 30. Mumbai Indians surely missed Saurabh Tiway but this is not an excuse. Sachin had done his job. Either Pollard or Duminy should have finished it. I think, the team combination was also not right. Bravo will do the same what we expect from McLaren, in bowling. And in batting, Bravo can hit the ball a long way and also can build the innings if needed. And what can I say about fielding ? It couldn't have been worse. :| I hope S Tiwary gets fit soon. Disappointed with Sachin's captaincy but his batting was awesome. Cherished every moment of it. Bets of luck for the next matches.

  • SachinIsTheGreatest on September 11, 2010, 4:38 GMT

    I agree with the comments that this is not an "upset". You have to see the difference between the other teams and the IPL teams. The domestic teams play all year around with a set of players so strengths, weaknesses and roles are identified. The IPL teams come together only for 45 days a years and then the CLT. It is not easy for them to gel quickly as a unit.

    It was a good start to the tournament though. The game had good batting, expert bowling and wonderful fielding(only from the Lions)!!

  • Dazzling_Devil on September 11, 2010, 5:38 GMT

    Its 'Champions' League. Every team has reached this stage because they have been superb in their own domestic season. Just becuase you have not seen the Lions on TV doesnt make them 'Underdogs'. Great start by Lions! :D