Spirited Lahore seal semi-final spot
Lahore Badshahs needed to avoid a big loss to stay on in top four, but a power-packed performancesealed their place in the semi-finals
Lahore Badshahs 211 for 4 (Farhat 67, Imran Nazir 44, Yousuf 40*) beat Chennai Superstars 198 for 9 (Sathish 76*, Harvey 54, Naved-ul-Hasan 4-26, Shahid Nazir 3-43) by 13 runs
Going into the game, Lahore Badshahs needed to avoid a big loss to stay on in top four, but a power-packed performance not only sealed their place in the semi-finals, but also helped them pip Chennai Superstars to second place. This was Chennai's second loss in two games, but half-centuries from R Sathish and Ian Harvey took them very close to an imposing 211, one which gives them some confidence before facing the same opponents in their semi-final on Monday.
Lahore seemed intent on aiming for a win right from the start. Imran Nazir began his run-fest by crunching a drive through the covers, and from then on the Chennai bowlers found it tough to check the scoring. Imran hit four fours and four sixes in his 23-ball 44. Along with Imran Farhat, he put on 76 for the first wicket. Farhat then kept the runs ticking along with pinch-hitter Naved-ul-Hasan, who made a useful 11-ball 22.
Mohammad Yousuf began with three fours in his first innings in the ICL on Saturday, but he started in a more sedate manner today, letting Farhat pick the boundaries. Farhat was out to R Jesuraj for 67. However, his arrival paved the way for the entry of Inzamam-ul-Haq, Lahore's captain, who had been a bit lacklustre in the tournament so far. But he put on a mini-spectacle for the big crowds to cheer about.
A 19-ball 31 included four fours and a six, and the sight to behold was Inzamam pushing for the quick single. With Yousuf, his former Pakistan team-mate, at the other end, he paced the latter half of the innings perfectly, ensuring the momentum wasn't lost. Yousuf stayed till the end for an unbeaten 40 off 28, and Azhar Mahmood, facing his first delivery, finished off the innings with a six.
Lahore, though, couldn't take things easy even after scoring 211, with Chennai setting out confidently in reply. G Vignesh managed only 13 and Russel Arnold 7, but by the time the first three wickets had gone, Chennai were already at 85 in 7.2 overs. It was Harvey who led the onslaught, with 44 of his 54 coming in boundaries. Shahid Nazir delivered the vital breakthrough for his team, and then dislodged Hemang Badani in the 14th over. Badani had only 15 from 16 balls, but he gave the solidity at one end while R Sathish, who was striking the ball cleanly, pulled off the risky shots. Saqlain Mushtaq used all his guile to squeeze in some quiet overs to increase the pressure.
Chennai's chase fell apart after Badani's exit. Stuart Law was dismissed in the same over, and Naved-ul-Hasan removed Hemanth Kumar and Syed Mohammad in the next. He added two more wickets in the 17th over, finishing with figures of 4 for 26 to share the match prize with Farhat. Sathish's, though, was also a deserving performance. An unbeaten 76 off 38 balls included six sixes, and he managed to make room and clear the boundary with ease. He will hope to continue in the same vein on Monday, and hope his team end as the winners in the match that matters. With Chennai's chase, which ended at 198, the match recorded the highest aggregate of the tournament - 409 runs.