Chennai: No Australian domestic side has lost to an IPL team in three seasons of the Champions League T20, and that trend continued after New South Wales beat Mumbai Indians in a low-scoring encounter in Chennai. The win not only keeps NSW in the race for the semi-finals but also in control of their own destiny, while Mumbai Indians will have to watch other results to know whether they progress.
On a hot and cloudless day, and on a track where the ball kept low and didn't come on to the bat, each member of NSW's attack played their part as Mumbai's batting faltered for the third time in the tournament. Only James Franklin put in a decent effort. Faced with a target of 101, it seemed a straightforward chase, but fast bowler Abu Nechim reduced NSW to 28 for 5 before they got home through Steven Smith and Ben Rohrer's unbroken 73-run stand.
The NSW bowlers made a terrific start with Stuart Clark, four days after his 36th birthday and having reduced his playing responsibilities, showing he had lost none of his old accuracy. Handed the new ball, he didn't strive for pace and stuck to disciplined bowling to knock over Aiden Blizzard and Ambati Rayudu in his first two overs.
Patrick Cummins, who is half Clark's age, then took over. Hitting 150kph on what was widely expected to be a sluggish track, he showed why he's being called a superstar in the making, intelligently mixing in the slower ball to befuddle the batsmen. In his first over, he got the key wicket of Kieron Pollard, who looked to bludgeon a full ball over midwicket. In the four overs he and Clark bowled from the fifth to the eighth, only five runs were scored.
Much then depended on Andrew Symonds. He has not looked his old effervescent self in this tournament, and he struggled today as well. A charge down the track to swipe Steve O'Keefe ended with the ball crashing into the top of off stump and Mumbai Indians were gasping at 51 or 5 after 12 overs.
Franklin, subjected to some criticism before the game over his position at No. 4 in the line-up, cut out the Hollywood strokes his team-mates attempted, preferring to play straight, highlighted by a perfectly timed on-drive off Moises Henriques for four. Even as he lost partners regularly, he kept poking the ball around, ensuring Mumbai Indians at least avoided the ignominy of finishing their innings with a double-digit score.
NSW weathered the first over of the chase from the chief threat, Lasith Malinga. It was Nechim, though, who made the big breakthroughs, removing both openers, Shane Watson and David Warner, in his first over. With Malinga then dismissing Simon Katich courtesy a trademark swinging yorker, Daniel Smith nicking Nechim behind after attempting a footwork-less slash, and Henriques picking up a duck on being given lbw to a spinning delivery from Yuzvendra Chahal that pitched outside leg, Mumbai were well and truly in the game.
Steven Smith and Rohrer then stabilised the innings and slowly took the game away from Mumbai Indians. With the spinners operating, the batsmen used their feet well to punch the ball for singles. It wasn't till the 13th over of the chase that the first six of the match was struck, Smith clouting Chahal over midwicket. A Franklin long hop was helped to fine leg for four, a wide Malinga yorker was chopped past point for four more before a bunch of boundaries from Smith settled the match in the 17th over.