The first game on Sunday evening in Raipur was a clash between the two winners from the opening day of the Champions League T20 qualifiers. Lahore Lions and Northern Knights met with convincing wins already to their names, and were looking to secure a two-victory cushion, which would take some of the pressure off with one qualifier to play. By the time the Powerplay was done in the chase, though, the contest was over. Quicks Tim Southee and Trent Boult, with swing and pace, had reduced Lions to 19 for 5.
After the match, Boult said he relished bowling in partnership with Southee. "I enjoy bowling with him," Boult told clt20.com. "I have known him for a lot of years now, we have grown up together and played age-group cricket together and I have learnt a lot from him.
"It [bowling in pairs] is an important thing in all formats. We both are pretty young in our careers and hopefully we have a lot more to come in the future. As a pair, we just go about keeping things simple. We try our best to put the ball in the right spot and hope for success from there."
What helped the bowlers, Boult said, was the feedback they got from their batsmen, who had "batted well" to get 170 on the board on a "tacky" pitch. "It was a new wicket and was kind of tacky where the ball stuck in the wicket and swung," he said. "It was pretty tough batting conditions but our boys batted well and got the runs on the board. A lot of reports we got from our batsman was that the ball was sticking on to the wicket.
"We realised that the key for us was to vary the length and hit the wicket hard, which would make it tough for their batsmen to score. The game-plan for us was obviously not to give them any width and it came off today."
Among the batsmen who had delivered for Knights were captain Daniel Flynn and wicketkeeper BJ Watling. They scored 53 apiece at strike rates upwards of 140, and made sure the team did not slide after falling to 60 for 3 in the eighth. By the time Flynn was out in the 18th, after adding 90 at a rate of 9.47 to the over with Watling, Knights were a much healthier 150.
Watling said it was Flynn's innings that set up the game for Knights. "That was a captain's knock," Watling said. "He came in when we were a bit under pressure being two wickets down in the game [36 for 2 in 5.4] and got going straightaway. We talk about that a lot in the dressing room, not soaking up too many dots at the start. It was a fantastic innings from Flynn and it definitely put us ahead in the game and helped turn things around."
When he came in himself, Watling said, the run rate was good, so he didn't need to do anything rash. "Yes, we were in a bit of trouble with three down for 60, but we still had a decent run rate. So it was just about accumulating and trying to pick up a boundary an over.
"And the way he was batting, we got boundaries at different times to keep up the run-rate. If I wasn't picking up a boundary, he would get a boundary in the next over. It definitely worked well."