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Highveld Lions upset Mumbai Indians in opener

Last updated on: September 11, 2010 00:30 IST
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In a huge upset early on underdogs Highveld Lions beat favourites Mumbai Indians by nine runs in the opening (Group B) match of the Champions League played at the New Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg on Friday.

It was yet another instance of David overcoming the Goliath.

Chasing an impressive, if not improbable, target the visitors eventually managed only 177 for six in their stipulated quota of overs.

This despite a having a solid foundation to build upon.

The Indian contingent had flattered to deceive in the inaugural edition on home soil - with none of its three entries making it to the last four - and if this opening match is anything to go by an encore shouldn't come across as a surprise. 

The bowling and fielding were the departments that proved to be the difference between the sides. If MI's performace in the said departments was shoddy, the Lions' effort was commendable to say the least.

Sachin Tendulkar carried forward his impressive Indian Premier League form into the Champions League, top-scoring for the Mumbai Indians with a masterful 69. The Master Blaster's 42-ball knock was inclusive of nine hits to the fence.

Shane Burger was the most impressive bowler for the Lions, taking the crucial wickets of Tendulkar and Kieron Pollard (19).

The MI captain and his opening Shikhar Dhawan (32) put on a solid partnership for the opening wicket - of 83 runs - to give the innings the foundation it so desperately required.

The visitors started on an aggressive note, racing to 46 without loss after six overs with Dhawan being the aggressive partner.

However, the Master Blaster cut loose soon enough, hitting Aaron Phangiso for successive boundaries in the eighth over. He was fortunate to survive in the same over though when his opposite number Alviro Petersen dropped him at cover.

But his opening partner wasn't as fortunate, hitting a Phangiso delivery straight to Cameron at short third man.

Ambati Rayudu (3) was run out in the next over. And when JP Duminy (30) was dropped off his own bowling by Cameron, it was a few monents of nerve for Mumbai Indians.

However, Tendulkar and Duminy did combine well thereafter, putting on 42 runs (of just 22 balls) for the third wicket.

Duminy cut loose in the 14th over, bowled by Cameron, hitting two boundaries and topping it up with a maximum over deep midwicket.

But Shane Burger struck in the next over, cleaning up the Master Blaster. In came Kieron Pollard (19) and he proved yet again while he is so highly rated.

The first ball of Burger's final over went over deep midwicket for a maximum, the third was a boundary to fine-leg and the fifth, another maximum, over long-on on this occasion.

However, Burger had the last laugh, shattering Pollard's stumps with his final ball. When the West Indies player was dismissed, MI needed a further 31 runs in the final three overs.

Frylinck bowled a tight 18th over, giving away just seven runs and that put the pressure on Duminy. The southpaw from South Africa hit a Zander de Bruyn delivery straight to Petersen at long-off.

R Sathish (10) did smash a six off the final ball of the penultimate over but MI still needed 16 off the last. Sathish got run out in the second ball.

And when knocked our Harbhajan with a full toss next, it was all over. If MI had given away 17 runs in the final over, Frylinck gave away just six and ensured his side were the deserving winners.

Earlier, Highveld Lions asserted themselves perfectly in suitable conditions. The home team made a formidable 186 for five in their stipulated 20 overs, the second highest total - after South Africa's 208 - in the venue.

If the Mumbai Indians' bowlers were guilty of being wayward, their fielders did help their cause either getting afflicted by a disease that perenially affects the Indians: fielder's paralysis.

Thus ones became twos, two threes and boundaries were given away generously as the Lions' total propped up evven if they lost wickets at regular intervals.

A whopping 57 runs came off the final five overs, with 17 coming off Zaheer Khan's final over, and that was a big turnaround considering the Mumbai Indians had the Lions struggling at 39 for two after the opening six overs.

Opener Jonathan Vandiar was the star of the show for the hosts, scoring a flamboyant 64. His 48-ball knock was inclusive of four hits to the fence and three huge ones over it.

Neil McKenzie also chipped in with an useful 56 not out, his 30-ball knock comprising seven fours and a six. Lasith Malinga was MI's best bowler with figures of three for 33.

Earlier, Lions were off to a cautious start and that extra caution cost them an early wicket.

Captain Alviro Petersen (12), who was looking in better touch than his opening partner, was run out in the fourth over following a mix-up.

Richard Cameron (9) didn't last long either, Ali Murtaza having him caught by Zaheer at long-on two overs later.

After six overs, the home team was in some trouble at 39 for two.

However Jonathan Vandiar and Vaughn van Jaarsveld (13) combined well to give their team the stability it so desperately needed. The eighth over by Zaheer caught MI 12 runs, with Vandiar helping himself to successive boundaries, while the next, bowled by JP Duminy, cost the visitors a further 13 runs with the same batsman hitting a six over long-on. 

The duo put on 43 runs for the third wicket before the latter hit a Lasith Malinga delivery straight to Ryan McLaren. His dismissal ensured the arrival of the experienced McKenzie to the crease and the Lions' rebuilding continued.

Vandiar smashed Rajgopal Sathish for a maximum over extra cover to bring about a well-deserved half-century. That Sathish over, his first and the 14th of the innings, cost MI 15 runs while the next, bowled by Malinga, ensured a further 13 runs were added to the Lions' total.

As a result of the onslaught, after 15 overs, the home team had raced to 129 for three.

And Vandiar's confidence has increased so much that he didn't hesitate coming out of his crease and smashing Malinga over midwicket for his third maximum.

The Sri Lankan had his revenge in the next ball though, having Vandiar caught by Tendulkar. Three balls later, Malinga cleaned up Robert Frylinck to give MI another breakthrough. 

However, McKenzie put his experience to good use to ensure his team a solid finish. In the process he brought about his half-century, reaching the landmark in the final over with a massive six off Zaheer.

However, the opener had done the job he was expected to do by then. His fourth wicket stand with McKenzie yielded the Lions' 64 runs, off just 35 balls, and ensured their innings the solidity it required.

Earlier, Mumbai Indians won the toss and invited Highveld Lions to bat first.

"The team has been together for a while and now it is the time to deliver," said MI captain Sachin Tendulkar.

"We look forward to the tournament since we meet all the top teams in the world," he added.

 His opposite number, Alviro Petersen, expressed confidence in his team.

"The boys are ready for the tournament," he said.

Mumbai Indians: Sachin Tendulkar (captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Ambati Rayudu, JP Duminy, R Sathish, Kieron Pollard, Ryan McLaren, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Lasith Malinga, Ali Murtuza.

Highveld Lions: Alviro Petersen (captain), Jonathan Vandiar, Neil McKenzie, Richard Cameron, Vaughn van Jaarsveld, Zander de Bruyn, Thami Tsolekile, Robert Frylinck, Shane Burger, Aaron Phangiso, Ethan O'Reilly. 

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