Lions leap to life in opener

2010-09-11 00:00

THE Highveld Lions merrily swept aside the form book last night as they dug in their heels to upset the star-studded Mumbai Indians by nine runs in the opening match of the Champions League Twenty20 at the Bullring.

Man of the match Jonathan Vandiar cracked 71 and Neil McKenzie a cheeky 56 not out as the Lions, having been put in by Sachin Tendulkar, set a more than adequate target of 186 for five.

The beginning of the match was almost as chaotic as it was to enter the stadium, with wides and misfields hardly the fitting start to a tourney graced by champions.

Ryan McLaren had a peculiar first over, with a big wide and another stray delivery going for four leg byes. His evening got worse soon after, as he and Lasith Malinga decided to ball-watch instead of plucking Alviro Pietersen’s skier out of the air.

Pietersen’s luck was not to last though, as young Vandiar sold him up the creek in spectacular fashion. If it wasn’t so serious, it would have been hilarious. But there were few smiles while the duo waited awkwardly to see who had made their ground first, as they had finished at the same end. A lesser light may have simply let his captain stay, but Vandiar backed himself to atone for his error. And how.

“I knew that I had to bat through most of the innings after that, and it came off well,” he said in the aftermath of his fine exploits.

He bludgeoned 71 off 48 balls, a new best in this format for the leftie, and set the Lions on their way to their testing target.

Vandiar found friends in Vaughn van Jaarsveld — few hit the ball harder than the chunky Lions man — and Neil McKenzie, who added a touch of finesse and cunning. Vandiar clubbed three towering sixes into the Highveld sky before he fell in the final fling. McKenzie showed a cool head and a slick pivot as he accelerated to 50 off just 28 balls.

A target of 187 to win was certainly no easy feat, but the manner in which Tendulkar and Shikhar Dhawan blazed away suggested the match would be over in no time.

Tendulkar was especially cavalier, going about his business more like a teenager than the elder statesman that he is.

Twice he could have been run out, but once the little master settled, he set the Wanderers alight. His half-century, off just 32 balls, seemed to have sent the Mumbai side on their way, but they hadn’t reckoned in the Lions’ late roar.

Shane Burger castled Tendulkar (69 off 42) before he put the skids on the Kieron Pollard show. The man-mountain from the islands was just getting into his stride (eight balls for his 19 runs) when Burger snuck another yorker through the defences.

JP Duminy’s 30 off 23 looked like it would hold the ship together, but when he fell, the boat was seriously rocking.

Tendulkar said he was generally pleased with how his side had performed in the field, save for a late charge that saw the Lions spank 17 off Zaheer Khan’s last over. “We bowled okay, but we didn’t bat well enough.”

The Lions celebrated as if they had won the whole darn thing at the end, and the World Cup theme song over the sound system hardly helped calm them down.

It was, after all, their home game.

Lions innings

JD Vandiar c Tendulkar b Malinga 71

AN Petersen* run out (Dhawan/Murtaza) 12

R Cameron c Khan b Murtaza 9

VB van Jaarsveld c McLaren b Malinga 13

ND McKenzie not out 56

R Frylinck b Malinga 1

Z de Bruyn not out 12

Extras (lb 5, w 7) 12

Total (5 wickets; 20 overs) 18 6

Fall of wickets: 1-24, 2-38, 3-81, 4-145, 5-147

Bowling: R McLaren 1 0 4 0; AG Murtaza 4 0 28 1; Z Khan 4 0 45 0; SL Malinga 4 0 33 3; Harbhajan Singh 3 0 22 0; JP Duminy 1 0 13 0; KA Pollard 2 0 21 0; R Sathish 1 0 15


SR Tendulkar* b Burger 69

S Dhawan c Cameron b Phangiso 32

AT Rayudu† run out (Petersen/de Bruyn) 3

JP Duminy c Petersen b de Bruyn 30

KA Pollard b Burger 19

R Sathish run out (Burger/Frylinck) 10

Harbhajan Singh not out 5

R McLaren not out 1

Extras (lb 4, w 4) 8

Total (6 wickets; 20 overs) 177 (8.85 runs per over)

Fall of wickets: 1-83, 2-89, 3-131, 4-156, 5-163, 6-173

Bowling: R Frylinck 4 0 32 0; E O’Reilly 4 0 25 0; S Burger 4 0 33 2; AM Phangiso 2 0 26 1; R Cameron 3 0 29 0; Z de Bruyn 3 0 28 1

Points: Lions 2, Mumbai Indians 0

Player of the match: JD Vandiar (Lions)

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