| Harbhajan Singh |
Calcutta: The Champions League Twenty20 has been disappointing for the participating Indian teams this year. While IPL-V champions Kolkata Knight Riders were the first team to crash out of the tournament, Highveld Lions’ victory, on Saturday, ensured the exit of defending champions Mumbai Indians and 2010 winners Chennai Super Kings.
Only Delhi DareDevils have managed to stay afloat so far. They defeated the Knight Riders in their opening match and their next match against the Auckland Aces was washed out.
Lions defeated Yorkshire comfortably by five wickets in a Group B encounter Saturday and the victory reduced the match between the Mumbai Indians and the Super Kings to a dead rubber.
The Lions, with three wins from four games, have now joined Sydney Sixers as the other team from Group B in the last-four stage. Both the teams have 12 points in their kitty. A victory for Yorkshire against Lions could have opened up the group, but that was not to be.
Against Yorkshire, everything went according to the script for the home team. Opting to field, the Lions first restricted Yorkshire to a modest 131 for 7 and then chased down the target, reaching 134 for five, with four balls to spare. Young Quinton de Cock top-scored for the Lions, with 32 off 35 balls.
In a later inconsequential match, Lasith Malinga’s five-wicket haul and Dinesh Karthik’s whirlwind 74 went in vain as Chennai Super Kings eked out a narrow six-run win over Mumbai Indians.
“We bowled really well after the first 10 overs. Chennai Super Kings got off to a good start. Our bowlers did a good job to restrict them to 173,” said Mumbai Indians captain Harbhajan Singh.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni said: “We took the gamble of giving the later overs to the spinners. And it worked.”
The Indian teams’ poor performance has brought to the fore the players’ inability to cope with the pace and bounce on South African pitches. Most of the Indian players have struggled to get runs while the bowlers have fared no better.
Strangely, even the presence of Jacques Kallis in the Knight Riders ranks wasn’t enough to turn their fortunes around. He played three matches and in two innings failed to get off the mark.
Perhaps the players’ inability to strike form also had something to do with too much cricket being played all over.
Not willing to take any chances, Cricket Australia asked all-rounder Shane Watson to return early from the CLT20. Australia’s Test and ODI captain Michael Clarke backed the decision, saying it was in the national team’s interest.
Watson, playing for Sydney Sixers, was told to come home early to take a break before the Test series against South Africa next month. Clarke said playing for the national teams should be the top priority for any cricketer.
“For me playing for Australia would be the main priority and I know Watto pretty well and I’m sure it’s the same with him.”
Watson was adjudged Player of the Tournament in the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka.