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Superstars storm into the final

The Chennai Superstars recorded an emphatic 93-run victory to outset the Kolkata Tigers and roar into the final of the inaugural ICL Indian 20:20 Championship tournament.

“Its all coming together for us,” said Stuart Law at the presentation ceremony to Dean Jones.

Rajagopal Satish was declared the player of the match for his outstanding overall performance. The all-rounder smashed 51 and later claimed two wickets, having a mammoth say on the proceedings in the first semi-final. Asked at the presentation ceremony if his team has a good chance of going the distance, “yes we can,” said vice-captain Satish in a self-assured pitch.

Fittingly, Superstars captain Stuart Law took the final catch to dismiss Nantie Hayward off Tamil Kumaran’s bowling. As many as four Superstars bowlers claimed two wickets each, making it a complete team effort. Shabbir Ahmed (1/5) conceded only five runs from his three-over spell and made matters complicated for the Tigers top-order batsmen.

It was an extremely cold evening and batting under lights was a grievous proposition for McMillan’s team. The Kolkata Tigers were bundled out for just 74 runs, which is now the lowest total of the tournament. Unfortunately for the team that ended at the top spot in the points tally after the league stages, their worst performance had to come on this night.

The turning point occurred when the Tigers’ last hope Jhunjhunwala heaved his bat, in an attempt to smash the ball towards mid wicket, but witnessed his stumps crashing to Thiru Kumaran’s bowling. Stuart Law’s band will face either Delhi Jets or Chandigarh Lions in the grand finale on Sunday.

Chasing 168 for a berth in the final of the tournament, Tigers suffered a monumental setback when openers Darren Maddy (9) and Deep Dasgupta (1) shrugged back without troubling the scorers too much. Jhunjhunwala and Rajiv Kumar went out to the center with the responsibility of setting up the platform for the likes of Klusener, McMillan and Chandana.

The big, strappy, in-form Kolkata Tigers captain Craig McMillan walked out to the middle, hoping to guide his team to victory from yet another improbable situation. In his very first delivery, the Kiwi swung his bat to Satish, with the outcome being Chris Read and the rest appealing for a caught behind dismissal. The umpire was unsure and went to the third umpire, who gave the verdict in favour of McMillan.

Just eight deliveries later, the enormously climbing required run-rate got to the skipper, McMillan chose the on side as his hitting area but managed to find Tamil Kumaran at deep mid wicket. Thiru Kumaran was the bowler who snapped the dangerous batsman.

Jhunjhunwala was stranded in the middle, losing partners at regular intervals as Lance Klusener walked out to the middle and it appeared as if all hopes were rested on the duo. Zulu did not last long either, courtesy of a tremendous catch from Thiru Kumaran off Satish’s bowling.

For the Chennai Superstars, the hero with the bat Rajagopal Satish played his part with the ball when he got Rajiv Kumar to edge a delivery to Chris Read. He also ran Upul Chandana out – nothing could keep him out of the match.

Shabbir Ahmed provided the initial breakthrough for his team when he got English opener Darren Maddy to play a fault stroke and edge a delivery to Hemang Badani. Deep Dasgupta was dismissed five deliveries later when Stuart Law took a brilliant catch at first slip. Tamil Kumaran was the bowler.

Earlier, Rajagopal Sathish played a scintillating knock to guide his team a healthy 167. At one stage, the Superstars were tottering on 78/5 with in-form batsmen Harvey, Read, Law and Arnold back in the dugout.

The Superstars vice-captain smashed 51 runs from just 24 balls – a knock that comprised of three soaring strikes and six boundaries. He was well supported by Saravanan (24 not out from 16 balls). The duo added 61 runs for the seventh-wicket after Hemang Badani fell after scoring a brisk 15.

Chennai Superstars experienced fluctuating fortunes in their innings. Harvey (23) and Read (28) got them off to a flying start but an unexpected collapse had them reeling at 78/5. Later, they looked good to amass a total in excess of 180, but another series of setbacks meant that they had to settle for 167.

Sujay Tarafdar (2/28) was the pick of the bowlers for Tigers, claiming crucial wickets of Vignesh (4) and Read. Hayward (1/23) was economical and veterans McMillan (2/26) and Klusener (0/30) chipped in during tense moments.

Superstars captain Stuart Law (9) was out stumped by keeper Deep Dasgupta when he stepped down the wicket against opposition captain Craig McMillan. Satish came into bat at number seven and did not refrain from playing strokes, despite the fact that half the side was back in the hut.

The stage was set for a rematch between the Chennai Superstars and Kolkata Tigers here at the Tau Devi Lal Stadium in Panchkula, Chandigarh. The former won the previous encounter by a thrilling margin of 6 runs. The result was rewritten but it wasn’t a close clash by any stretch of the imagination.

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