The fourth Season of the Champions League T20 kicked off with qualifying matches between Pakistan’s domestic champions Faisalabad, led by Pakistan’s Test skipper Misbah-ul-Haq and New Zealand’s Otago Volts.
The Wolves were beaten convincingly after being outclassed in all departments by Otago’s players.
Except a captain’s knock of 34-ball 46, no other Faisalabad batsmen had answers to Otago attack. The pace-friendly Mohali pitch was a perfect bowling pitch and Misbah’s decision to bat first misfired.
A good partnership of 61 runs between Misbah and Khurram Shehzad ensured Pakistan champions were able to setup up a respectable total after Ali Waqas, Ammar Mahmood, Asif Ali could not set up the momentum. The partnership started slowly before Misbah took the initiative and went for the big ones.
Otago pacers shared seven wickets and maintained an economical rate. Misbah departure in 17th over dented hopes of late charge for the Pakistan team. The tail-enders could not do much and the 20 overs exhausted with 139 on scoreboard. Defending a modest target, Faisalabad bowlers got NT Broom in first over and Hamish Rutherford in sixth over.
However, McCullum’s 83 runs from 65 balls helped Otago win the match with 8 wickets. McCullum was playing safe shorts by punishing loose balls and avoiding any risky hits.
Supported by 50 run partnership with Derek de Boorder, Otago eclipsed the required rate with 13 balls to spare. McCullum spell of pounding hits, help New Zealanders get a good net-run-rate.
In the second qualifier match, Shikhar Dhawan and Parthiv Patel innings helped Hyderabad crush Kandurata .Set 169 to win, Hyderabad’s batsmen hammered Kandurata’s strong Sri Lankan bowling attack to all parts of the ground.
After putting the opposition to bat, Hyderabad bowlers led by Ishant Sharma ravaged Lankan batting attack early. Kandurata slipped to 33/2 after five overs.
However, Kumar Sangakkara and Kandurata captain Lahiru Thirimanne steadied the innings with 89 runs partnership. Sangakkara provide the much needed push at the closing stages and the visitors finished their innings on a challenging 168/3. Dilhara Lokuhettige contributed a quick fire 21 in 10 balls after Thirimanne departed.
Kandurata’s bowling attack was neutralized by home team openers Dhawan and Patel. Both added 121 to the opening wicket. Both left-hander’s cheered by home support hit the balls beautifully. After the departure of openers, it was turn of Thisara Perera to make merry of bowling attack. His 32 of 11 balls ensured Hyderabad were off to a wining start.
With wins in their kitty, Otago and Hyderabad will be hoping to keep their winning momentum in next game and secure a place in the group stages of the main event.