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Lions beat Jets in ICL opener

The Chandigarh Lions started their campaign in the ICL 20:20 Indian Championship on a captivating note, defeating the Delhi Jets by a nerve-racking 9-run margin.

The Lions received tremendous support from the crowd - with cheerleaders dancing away to glory at every run-out attempt, dismissal or LBW appeal. The loud music and the enchanting crowds confirmed that the foundational day of the Indian Cricket League is one to remember.

A potent new ball attack comprising of Darrell Tuffey (3/16) and Andrew Hall (2/26) ripped through the top order of the Delhi Jets and ensured the momentum was firmly with the Chandigarh, despite defending a middling total of 135.

Darrell Tuffey was named Man of the MatchTuffey was adjudged the man-of-the-match for his splendid spell of fast bowling. He swung the ball prodigiously on the frosty winter night and made the ball talk - confirming that 20:20 is not just a batsman's game.

Delhi needed 34 runs from the last three overs after a late flourish from Jai Prakash Yadav and Abbas Ali but it was a crucial over from experienced death overs bowler Andrew Hall that swung the match back in the Lions' favour. It went down to the wire with Jets needing 16 off the last over all hopes rested on veteran batsman Abbas Ali, but the thrust was clearly with the Lions.

There were numerous run-out attempts right throughout the innings, which bears out that the Jets were skeptical in their running between the wickets and felt the heat against the 'technical host team' of the ICL. Jets hit the first six of their innings in the 15th over - a statistic that is rarely encountered with in a 20:20 action-packed match.

Jets' captain Marvan Atapattu (29) stroked four crisp boundaries and looked in complete command before top edging a Tuffey delivery to Reetinder Singh Sodhi at mid-off.

Andrew Hall got rid of the dangerous Taufiq Umar in the very first over with an almost unplayable late swinging delivery for a duck. Mishra and Atapattu partnered for 28 runs before Darrell Tuffey got into the act. The first of the Kiwi's three wickets came in the sixth over when Mishra was out caught behind by wicket-keeper Sarabjit Singh.

Earlier, the Chandigarh Lions were bundled out for just 134 after they were cruising on 88-2 at one stage but a late resurgence from the Atapttu-led Jets triggered the Lions' collapse.

Ali Murtaza (3/16) and Abishek Sharma (3/16) were the pick of the bowlers for Jets - claiming five wickets within the space of 15 deliveries. JP Yadav (2/26) provided the initial breakthroughs for the Delhi Jets - snapping the two New Zealanders in the Lions outfit - Hamish Marshall (23) and Darrell Tuffey (0).

At one stage, the Jets looked good to accumulate a total in excess of 180 - especially with the start given to the hosts by Pakistan opener Imran Farhat, who struck the first six of the tournament when he smashed Abid Nabi over long on, giving the crowd a lot to cheer about.

Atapattu was running out of bowling options as Nabi, Srivatsava and Yadav all proved to be very expensive. Murtaza and Sharma were primarily responsible for the Jets' position of ascendancy in the match during the half-time stage.

The crowds erupted every time a boundary was struck - the musicians on the stage rejoiced and started banging their drum sets - making it loud and clear that they love the 20:20 format of the sport.

Lara's Mumbai Champs will collide against Inzamam's Hyderabad Heroes on Day 2 of the tournament. The other match of the day will feature the Chennai Superstars going up against the Kolkata Tigers.

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