It could be argued this morning that this was going to be the least high-profile day of the 2013 Champion League t20. Well, Otago Volts have changed all that.
The New Zealand side’s five-wicket demolition of the highly-regarded Sunrisers Hyderabad made it abundantly clear that they will be a force to be reckoned with when the main business gets under way on Saturday. What’s more, Nathan McCullum’s side have had three games to get used to the conditions and seem primed for more success. They look the real deal.
What was very impressive about Otago’s win over Hyderabad – they won with 22 balls to spare – was the way in which the less regarded members of the side showed their pleasure at being invited to the party. Beard bowled his slow left-armers with considerable skill (4-0-31-2) and Jimmy Neesham, after conceding 26 runs in his four overs, then whacked 21 off 13 balls as the Volts cruised home.
Yet when all the actors have received their ovations, this was still the Brendon McCullum show. Chasing 144, Otago’s pursuit was made to seem straightforward by the uninhibited hitting of one of the best t20 cricketers on the planet. McCullum took 39 balls over his 67 runs, hitting five boundaries and five sixes in the process. While Dale Steyn kept his reputation intact (3-0-13-2) Ishant Sharma’s (3-0-40-0) and Darren Sammy’s (3-0-30-1) took a battering. And what McCullum did to them, he can do to most of the bowlers in this tournament. Amit Mishra’s four overs cost 26 runs.
Until JP Duminy made 57 off 38 balls it seemed that Otago’s target would be even more modest. But, along with Sammy and Cameron White, the South African ensured that the Sunrisers, who are not in the least a shabby outfit, would have a total to defend. Well it seemed that way at the game’s midpoint. Then came McCullum.
The first game of the day provided some measure of evidence against the proposition that there is no such thing as a one-man team. Throughout his team’s three matches in this tournament Misbah-ul-Haq has stood head, shoulders and torso above his colleagues, and so it was only appropriate that the skipper’s unbeaten 93 should guide Faisalabad Wolves to their 10-run victory over Kandurata Maroons.
Misbah’s runs were scored off 60 balls and his fluent hitting included half a dozen fours and five sixes. Mohammed Salman was the next highest scorer with a mere 21 and it was little surprise that Misbah’s innings in the Champions League add up to 195 runs while his team- mates’ efforts add up to 180. Dilhara was the most economical Maroons bowler, conceding just 21 runs off his four overs and for a while it seemed that the Wolves would make no more than a modest 120 or so. But Misbah’s acceleration in the final few overs proved decisive; he deserved a century.
Kandurata Maroons could find no batsman capable of matching the Wolves talisman. Although Kumar Sangakkara made a polished 44, his dismissal, caught on the boundary by Ammar Mahmood off Imran Khalid, knocked the stuffing out of the Sri Lankan side’s response and Asad Ali magnificent final over – the 19th of the innings – pretty much sealed the win. Ehsan Adil took three for 26 and the Pakistani side had the satisfaction of returning home with a victory to their credit, if not the satisfaction that would have come with making further progress in the competition proper.
As the editor of Cricket Badger he is intent on building the website to give quality coverage of the domestic game around the world.
James was the full-time Media Manager at Yorkshire County Cricket Club between 2007 and 2010.
James is a published author and a writer/video contributor to many cricket publications.
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