A. Joseph Antony

HYDERABAD: Sarabjit Singh’s six, with just two deliveries left, clinched a thriller for Chandigarh Lions against Mumbai Champs in the Indian Cricket League (ICL) at the Lal Bahadur Stadium here on Monday.

Needing eight runs to win in the last over, the northern side held its nerve, epitomised by young Sarabjit’s unconquered 41 (22b, 3x6, 3x4).

Replying to Mumbai Champs’ modest tally of 135, the eventual verdict looked highly unlikely, Nathan Astle’s haul of four for 19 coming close to derailing the Chandigarh chase.

Johannes van der Wath, opening the attack for Champs, had Lou Vincent guessing in the first over, his out-swingers beating the bat time and again. That was a sign of things to come, three Lions batsmen departing before the half century was posted.

Matthew Elliott measured up to the attack till his inside-out drive was held by sweeper Raviraj Patil off Astle. Shortly after, the Mumbai skipper’s gentle pace forced Gaurav Gupta to prod a catch to Kiran Powar. Skipper Chris Cairns was beaten all ends up by his Mumbai counterpart.

Lions, bubbling with confidence from its triumph in the recent ICL domestic circuit, chose to field on a balmy full moon-lit evening. Astle’s half-hearted hit to clear the inner circle was pouched by T.P. Singh at cover, with the Champs total still to reach double figures.

Daryl Tuffey, incisive as ever, struck again, as Raviraj Patil’s flick was picked up by Gaurav Gupta, juggling with the ball like a slippery soap in a shower, before clutching it to his chest. Slow left-arm spinner Tejinder Pal Singh, fourth bowler into the attack in six overs, trapped Hasan Raza in front.

As if these setbacks weren’t enough, Taufeeq Umar, his restlessness evident from frequently stepping out against the other southpaw Dinesh Mongia, failed to ground his bat trying to regain the crease and stumper Sarabjit completed the formalities.

Powar to the rescue

Powar sought to stem the rot, as the slide continued, the left-hander’s six and five boundaries, taking his side to a semblance of respectability.

‘Mr. Extras’ with 17 was right behind Powar’s unbeaten 45 and Ranjit Khirid’s 18 not out, in a largely forgettable Mumbai innings.

The scores: Mumbai Champs 135 for six (Kiran Powar 45, Daryl Tuffey two for 25) lost to Chandigarh Lions 137 for eight (Matthew Elliott 38, Sarabjit Singh 41 n.o., Nathan Astle four for 19).

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