By Arun Gopalakrishnan
Some high intensity bowling and fielding, followed by some intelligent batting, from the Northern Knights put paid to the Mumbai Indians’ hopes of progressing to the main draw of the Oppo CLT20 2014. After being put in to bat in the final qualifying stage match, the Mumbai Indians managed a modest 132 runs on the board, which the Kiwi side chased down in 17.2 overs, losing only four wickets in the process.
The result meant the Northern Knights and the Lahore Lions, who occupied first and second spots in the table at the end of the qualifying stage, progress to the tournament proper.
Put into bat, runs were at a premium early on as the Northern Knights new-ball pair of Trent Boult and Tim Southee bowled immaculate lines and lengths and made the MI batsmen work hard for their runs. Michael Hussey attempted to break free but didn’t get enough elevation and was done in by a sharp catch by Scott Kuggeleijn at mid on. Jalaj Saxena deposited one into the crowds and suffered the same fate soon after, courtesy a sharp catch by Kane Williamson at short cover. Scott Styris then picked up Lendl Simmons and Aditya Tare as his second and third victims respectively to reduce MI to 45 for 4 at the half-way stage.
After Ambati Rayudu departed gloving one to the wicket-keeper soon after, skipper Kieron Pollard (31) and Harbhajan Singh stitched together a 29-run partnership – the biggest of the innings. That partnership also gave the innings some impetus as Pollard found the boundary twice and Harbhajan Singh hit one out of the park. Both batsmen perished when they attempted to take the aerial route but found the fielder on the rope.
Lasith Malinga and young Shreyas Gopal used their might to find the boundary a few times as 43 runs were added to the MI score in the last three overs. Malinga made 20 from 8 balls, decorated with three fours and a six, while Shreyas made 24 of 12 balls.
For the Northern Knights, Southee and Styris picked up three wickets each, while Boult and Kuggeleijn returned one wicket apiece. The Northern Knights players displayed superb intensity in the field; their players were seen throwing themselves around and cutting off runs, taking catches that came their way and even converting the half-chances.
Needing to score just over a run-a-ball, the Northern Knights opening pair of Anton Devcich and Kane Williamson set the perfect platform adding 83 runs before they were separated in the tenth over. Both batsmen played smart cricket, picking up plenty of ones and twos in addition to a boundary almost every over. The left-handed Devcich attempted to chip a Harbhajan Singh delivery, but got too close to it and ended up holing out to Pollard at long off. He made 39 from 34 balls and hit four boundaries and a six. Williamson batted brilliantly, using his feet well against the spinners and timing the ball well against the rest, for 53 runs. He hit seven boundaries and a six before he attempted to hit one on the rise but found the bucket-like hands of Pollard at short cover. Skipper Daniel Flynn and BJ Watling perished to soft dismissals, but Scott Styris and Daryl Mitchell completed formalities in the 18th over.
Brief Scores: Mumbai Indians 132-9 in 20.0 Overs (Kieron Pollard 31, Tim Southee 3-24, Scott Styris 3-21) lost to Northern Knights 133-4 in 17.2 Overs (Anton Devcich 39, Kane Williamson 53, Jasprit Bumrah 2-26)
Man of the Match: Scott Styris, for his bowling spell of 4-0-21-3.