Otago Volts served notice to the big boys in Group A of the Champions League Twenty20 2013, rounding off their qualifying campaign in some style with a commanding victory over Sunrisers Hyderabad in the top-of-the-table clash. (All the highlights from the match)
The outcome of this match will have little bearing on what unfurls in the next fortnight, but despite resting Ian Butler and James McMillan, their two strike bowlers, Otago still packed far too much punch for Hyderabad, outclassed in every department at PCA Stadium in Mohali on Friday (September 20) night. (Match pics)
It was a thoroughly impressive performance from Brendon McCullum's side, who first strangled Hyderabad with clinical precision with the ball, and then went about chasing a middling target with great intensity and purpose, completing a five-wicket victory without so much as breaking sweat.
For the first time in three matches, Shikhar Dhawan and Parthiv Patel failed to piece together a meaningful partnership, and that told on the Hyderabad batting which only managed 143 for 5, after being asked to bat first, on the back of an innings-stabilising unbeaten 57 by JP Duminy.
Otago began as if they had an immediate flight to catch, Neil Broom playing some outlandish strokes against a fired-up Dale Steyn and Ishant Sharma before ceding centrestage to his skipper. McCullum got off the mark with a stunning six off Darren Sammy, then turned his attention to Amit Mishra and Karan Sharma, the two legspinners who both were deposited deep into the stands. As a statement of intent, this was telling. So was the fact that Otago raced to 144 for 5 in just 16.2 overs, winning with 22 deliveries to spare.
McCullum wasn't the lone ranger, with Hamish Rutherford playing some handsome strokes of his own with typically languid left-handed elegance and James Neesham helping himself to a couple of sixes during half-century stands with their captain. Hyderabad looked completely ill equipped to staunch the flow of runs on a good batting surface, something the rest of the field will have taken note of going into the main draw.
McCullum, lucky that Patel failed to effect a simple stumping off Karan when he was on 26, was at his imperious best, pulling with impunity and batting in one gear to bring up a blistering half-century in only 33 deliveries. He battered Ishant for 22 in his third over on his way to 67 not out off 39 deliveries with fives fours and as many sixes.
Otago had hitherto relied on their faster bowlers to do the damage but, on Friday, it was Nathan McCullum who unexpectedly set them on their way. Having gone for 56 in his four previous overs, he was handed the new ball by brother Brendon against Dhawan and Patel, the two left-hand batsmen, and evicted them both during an unchanged four-over spell of 2 for 23, Patel bowled backing away to cut and Dhawan smartly caught at mid-on trying to clear the infield.
Biplab Samantray, sent in at No. 3, added to Hyderabad's woes by eating up 16 deliveries for his eight before falling to a wonderful catch by Michael Bracewell at long on as he went after Nick Beard, the left-arm spinner. Bracewell caught the ball, realised he was about to step outside the field of play, gently lobbed the ball in the air as he crossed the rope, then coolly stepped back in to complete the catch, putting Samantray out of his misery.
It was then up to the three overseas pros in the middle order to haul the team to respectability. Duminy was his busy, industrious self while Cameron White - coming in for Thisara Perera - went on the attack for a brief while in making 25 out of a fourth-wicket stand of 40. His dismissal brought in Sammy, heralding the most exciting and eventful phase of the innings.
Sammy was put down on one off his own bowling by Ryan ten Doeschate - who had a forgettable outing - and then on ten by Neesham, running back from midwicket, also off ten Doeschate. That over, ten Doeschate's fourth and the 17th of the innings, had everything - two sixes, a dropped catch and a four - as it produced 21. Even so, Hyderabad never looked good to post a total that would test a strong Otago batting unit, despite scoring 52 in the last five overs.
Otago will travel to Ahmedabad to face Mumbai Indians in their first Group A tie on September 23, while Hyderabad will stay on in Mohali and take on Trinidad & Tobago in their Group B opener the following day.