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Match Report

CLT20 Desk in Mumbai

Match Report: Highveld Lions vs Sydney Sixers

Sixers demolish Lions to clinch CLT20 2012 title

On a fabulous evening in Johannesburg, the Sydney Sixers were crowned the new CLT20 champions. In the title clash at the New Wanderers Stadium, the Sixers defeated the Highveld Lions to take home the magnificent CLT20 trophy and the winner’s cheque of USD 2,500,000. The home team, the Lions, had to be content with the runners-up cheque of USD 1,300,000.

On a fantastic pitch at the New Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg, the Sydney Sixers put the Highveld Lions in, restricted them to 121 and then cruised past the finish line in 12.3 overs to register a resounding 10-wicket victory.

Needing to score at just over six runs an over, the Sixers’ opening pair of Brad Haddin and Michael Lumb started cautiously. But once both batsmen had gauged the conditions and seen off the early burst from the new-ball bowlers, they opened their shoulders and sent the Lions fielders on a leather hunt. Both batsmen were let off on 17 and would make the Lions pay for their largesse. Lumb would help himself to a well-compiled half-century, while his skipper would remain unbeaten on 37. The 124-run unbeaten partnership would be the Sixers’ best-ever opening partnership.

Lumb – who would bag the Golden Bat award for being the leading run-getter of the competition – started slowly; he only had 10 runs after 17 deliveries. But after Gulam Bodi let him off at the long-off boundary, the left-hander unleashed; he hit the left-arm spinner Aaron Phangiso for a six and three boundaries in one over, and then muscled Jean Symes, Chris Morris and Dwaine Pretorious for sixes. He would remain unbeaten on 82 (42 balls), studded with eight boundaries and five sixes.

Earlier in the evening, the Sydney Sixers sprang a few surprises when they first won the toss and opted to field when experts believed it was best to bat first. A huge surprise followed when the Australian side got the spin pair of Nathan McCullum and Steve O’Keefe to bowl the first two overs. Those surprise decisions, together with the hosts’ strategy to throw the kitchen sink at everything, saw the Lions lose four wickets in the first four overs. It took Jean Symes’ highest score in Twenty20 cricket – a responsible innings of 51 – to steer his team to 121.

Coming in to bat at No.6, Symes mixed aggression and caution just perfectly. Whenever the Sixers’ bowlers erred on line or length, the 25-year-old cashed in on it by picking up boundaries. He started off by hitting boundaries through the off-side, but later on – after improvising and forcing the bowlers to bowl on his pads – picked up boundaries through midwicket and fine-leg. He hit eight boundaries in his 46-ball knock, which came to an end when he threw his bat at a Josh Hazlewood delivery, but only managed a top-edge, which was pouched by wicketkeeper Brad Haddin.

Earlier in the evening, after hitting McCullum for a six over long-on, the Lions’ opening batsman Gulam Bodi found the man at square leg the following delivery. Teenage sensation Quinton de Kock’s attempted heave resulted in a top edge, which was brilliantly pouched by Steve O’Keefe at thirdman. Neil McKenzie too perished when his top edge landed in the hands of Ben Rohrer; and when Alviro Petersen edged O’Keefe to the slip fielder, the Lions were in all kinds of problems at nine for four.

Jean Symes and Sohail Tanvir resurrected the innings briefly, before the latter was dismissed leg before wicket by McCullum. At the end of seven overs, the Lions were in all kinds of disarray with half the batsmen back in the dressing room.

Symes and wicketkeeper Thami Tsolekile did their bit to give their team’s score some respectability. Both players contributed almost evenly to their 41-run partnership, but in contrasting styles. While Symes middled everything, his partner struggled to find the sweet spot of his bat. Tsolekile’s ungainly innings came to an end when he slog-swept McCullum to the man at short midwicket. Dwaine Pretorious then landed a few lusty blows, before a direct hit at the non-striker’s cut short his 38-run partnership with Symes.

O’Keefe was the most impressive of the Sixers’ bowlers; the left-arm spinner finished with incredible figures of one for 11 from his four overs (despite bowling two of those overs with the field restrictions in place). McCullum and Hazlewood returned the most successful bowlers of the day with three wickets each. Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins – who were expected to do much of the damage – were brought on as the fourth and fifth bowlers in the innings.

Brief Scores: Highveld Lions 121 in 20.0 overs (Jean Symes 51, Josh Hazlewood 3-22, Neil McCullum 3-24) lost to Sydney Sixers 124-0 in 12.3 overs (Michael Lumb 82*, Brad Haddin 38*) by 10 wickets

Man of the Match: Michael Lumb, for his unbeaten 82 (42 balls, 8 fours, 5 sixes).

Golden Bat: Michael Lumb (226 runs)

Golden Wicket: Mitchell Starc (14 wickets)

Player of the Tournament: Mitchell Starc

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