30 October 2012
The Titans and Highveld Lions came oh so close to making it a dream final for South African cricket fans in the 2012 Champions League Twenty20 competition, which ended on Sunday, but Australia’s Sydney Sixers ruined South African hopes with victories over both teams in the semi-finals and final respectively.
Unfortunately, the final, played on the Lions’ home ground, The Wanderers in Johannesburg, was a one-sided affair as the Lions faltered and the Sixers flourished.
A decision by Brad Haddin to field after the Sixers won the toss proved to be an excellent one as the Lions stumbled to 9 for 4 in the fourth over, with the first four batsmen in the order making just eight runs between them.
Jean Symes, with 51 off 46 balls, gave the home team’s innings some sort of respectability, but only three other players made it into double figures as the Lions mustered just 121 all out.
Nathan McCullum, with 3 for 24, and Josh Hazlewood, with 3 for 22, led the way with the ball.
Man of the match Michael Lumb, the leading run scorer in the competition, then smashed an unbeaten 82 off just 42 deliveries to take the Sixers to a 10-wicket victory with only 12.3 overs bowled. Haddin finished on 33 not out.
Mitchell Starc, who claimed 14 wickets in the Sixers six victories on their way to the title, was named the Player of the Tournament.
‘It was the pressure’
“It was the pressure that we created as a team that affected the Lions,” Haddin told CLT20.com afterwards.
“We had a very good presence out there. We changed a few things up front and it did work for us. We’ve been building for this game for about two weeks.”
The tournament was a personal triumph for the Lions’ Geoffrey Toyana, who took over the coaching reins at the franchise this season.
Significant for cricket development
Cricket South Africa Acting CEO Jacques Faul commented in a statement: “His success off the field, along with that of Aaron Phangiso on it, has probably made this the most significant couple of weeks for the development of our cricket in disadvantaged areas since Makhaya Ntini and Mfuneko Ngam played together for the Proteas during the 2000/01 season.
“While Makhaya and Gammie both came from disadvantaged rural areas, Aaron (Soshanguve) and Geoffrey (Soweto) are products of our townships and this is hugely significant for what is potentially South African cricket’s biggest growth area.”
The Indian Premier League (IPL) had dominated last year’s Champions League tournament and the Chennai Super Kings had beenc crowned champions when the event was previously held in South Africa in 2010, but this time around the host nation supplied two semi-finalists, Australia one and the IPL one.
The Highveld Lions were not expected to excel, but they did, finishing second in Group B behind the Sydney Sixes after some excellent performances that took them to impressive victories over the Chennai Super Kings, Mumbai Indians and Yorkshire Carnegie.
Their only defeat in the group stage came against the Sixers, who scored a five-wicket win with an over to spare at Newlands in Cape Town.
The Titans, meanwhile, also finished second in their group after winning two matches, losing one and having a no result in their other outing. The Delhi Daredevils, with two wins and two no results topped the log.
Big wins, big defeat
The Titans opened their account with a convincing 39-run win over the Perth Scorchers and followed that with an even bigger win by 59 runs over the Auckland Aces. Then came a shocking performance against the Kolkata Knight Riders, who romped to a 99-run thrashing of the Titans.
A rained out showdown against the Delhi Daredevils in the last group game ensured both teams advanced to the semi-finals.
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