Chennai Super Kings became the first team to enter the semifinals of Champions League Twenty20 2013 after beating Brisbane Heat by eight wickets at the JSCA International Stadium in Ranchi on Saturday (September 28). The result also meant that Brisbane were eliminated, having lost all three matches they've played in the tournament so far. (Match Scorecard | Highlights)
After opting to field, Chennai were ruthless against an adventurous Brisbane top order. After poor performances in their two previous games, Brisbane's batsmen seemed to have made up their minds to attack Chennai. However, their tactic backfired, and they were reduced to 66 for 6, before Ben Cutting and Chris Hartley put together a stirring seventh-wicket partnership of 71 to boost their total to 137 for 7. (Match in pics)
Faced with a seemingly easy chase, Murali Vijay and Mike Hussey, the Chennai openers, laid the foundation, putting on 75 to set up the victory. Vijay made a 27-ball 42 and played a significant role. Hussey was the bedrock though, piling on the runs to complete his first half-century of the tournament, a 48-ball 57. Suresh Raina (23 off 15 balls) and Mahendra Singh Dhoni (13 not out) helped finish the job.
After two consecutive scoreless games, Vijay came back to form with a bang. The more time he spent at the crease, the more his confidence grew. The stylish, power-packed strokes returned, and at one point, he skipped forward and lifted Nathan Hauritz for two successive sixes, both over the midwicket region. At the other end, Hussey was his usual effervescent self when he wanted to be, but was happy scoring singles while Vijay attacked. There were a few juicy strokes though, including an inside-out drive off Hauritz, which perfectly bisected the cover fielders.
Vijay's knock came to an end when he holed out to Joe Burns at fine leg while attempting to pull a short one from Cutting. Raina walked in, and if anything, he was even more explosive. There was a thwacked six over midwicket, and another one pulled away over square leg. He was given leg before wicket to Dan Christian late on, but Dhoni, the Ranchi boy, came in to finish it off with a six straight down the ground. There were still 25 balls to be bowled.
The early signs were mixed for Brisbane. James Hopes started the match with a smart four through point off Mohit Sharma, but Dominic Michael, making his Twenty20 debut, fell for a two-ball duck later in the over. Chris Lynn walked in to partner Hopes, and the two put on 24 for the second wicket, attacking ferociously in a short-lived exhibition of power.
Sharma was taken for a couple of fours, as was Albie Morkel. Hopes holed out later in that over, but Lynn carried on at the other end. He smashed consecutive boundaries off Jason Holder, one of them clubbed straight over the sightscreen, and was dropped on 27 by Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the Chennai captain, even as Dan Christian and Joe Burns were dismissed without making much of an impact.
It didn't prove a costly drop though, as R Ashwin sent down a leg break which Lynn (29 off 25) edged to gully. Chris Sabburg didn't last long either, and Brisbane were in dire straits. But Cutting and Hartley's partnership gave Brisbane hope.
Unlike their team-mates, they didn't attempt to hit themselves out of the hole. They first went about picking up singles, and consolidating. After taking about five overs to assess the conditions, they lashed out in the 18th over. It began with Cutting lifting Dwayne Bravo for two huge sixes over long-on. Holder was then taken for 13 in the next over, but they saved their best for last. They took 22 off the final over sent down by Sharma, with Cutting heaving two sixes and Hartley hitting two fours.
It gave the Brisbane bowlers something to defend. But against a quality team like Chennai, they were on a hiding to nothing.