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Nixon leads Jets to victory

The Delhi Jets have recorded a gripping 24-run victory over the Mumbai Champs to virtually knock Lara's team out of the reckoning for the final four of the tournament.

With the victory, the Atapattu-led team has moved an inch closer towards corroborating a berth in the semi-final of the ICL Indian 20:20 Championship.

Taduri Sudhindra (3/38) was adjudged the player of the match for his match-winning spell of seam bowling. The youngster dismissed the big three in the Champs top order Lara, Solanki and Astle. He conceded many runs towards the end but triggered the preliminary damage that the Champs never recovered from.

Champs' star opening batsman Dheeraj Jadav (42) was the sole survivor and kept his team afloat in the match until the end. But the gifted left-hander gave in to the pressure of mounting required run-rate and lofted a Ali Murtaza delivery to Taufiq Umar at mid-on.

Tailender Mervin Dillon (19) kept the crowd alive with a late flourish of sixes but it was rather belatedly for the Mumbai Champs. They needed an improbable 28 runs to win off the last over with just the one wicket in the bag.

Veteran Jai Prakash Yadav was the pick of the Jets bowlers conceding only nine runs from his four-over spell and claiming two crucial wickets of Kiran Powar and Ranjeet Kirid. Part-time spinner Abhishek Sharma chipped in with three wickets and solved the fifth bowler qualms for Marvan Atapattu.

The match had drifted away from the Champs much in advance as they required to score at almost twelve runs per over in the last five and Subhojith Paul (21) was able to provide proficient support to Jadhav. The duo was the last recognised batting pair in their ranks and the eventual dismissal of Jadhav sealed the fate for the Mumbai Champs.

South African all-rounder Johan van der Wath (13) breathed fresh air into the Champs innings when he struck two crisp boundaries but didn't last long either. He was trapped leg before wicket by Abhishek Sharma, to leave the Mumbai-based team reeling at 82/6 at the end of thirteen overs.

Nathan Astle (4) mugged around for fifteen deliveries before trying to heave Sudhindra towards midwicket but making no contact, leaving a doubtless umpire to raise his finger in a flash. Vikram Solanki, who was promoted up the order, smashed one over mid-on to get off to mark before miscuing a Sudhindra delivery to Shalabh Srivastava at third man.

Kiran Powar (16) appeared to be the saviour of the Champs when he struck three quick boundaries but fell victim to JP Yadav, caught by Mohnish Mishra at long off. Ranjeet Kirid (0) lasted only two deliveries and gave Yadav another wicket when he scooped one to a substitute fielder.

Brian Lara (3) decided to open the innings and take the charge to the bowlers after his team conceded a tournament high 163 runs to the Delhi Jets. The Prince of Trinidad didn't last too long, providing immense grief to the jam-packed audience at the Tau Devi Lal Stadium here in Panchkula, Chandigarh.

Lara tried to cut Taduri Sudhindra and nicked a wide delivery to Paul Nixon, who was standing up to entice the batsmen to go after the bowling.

Earlier, the Delhi Jets registered a daunting target of 164 to the Mumbai Champs, because of astounding unbeaten knocks from Dale Benkenstein (38 from 25 balls) and Paul Nixon (39 from 14 balls). The South African-English duo added 65 runs from 27 balls to finish the innings on a high for their team.

The platform was laid by solid performances from in-form batsmen Taufeeq Umar (18) and Abbas Ali (25). The Jets were in totters at one stage when Avinash Yadav (2/38) and Rakesh Patel (1/27) restricted them to 45/3 at the close of eight overs. At that juncture, it appeared as if the Jets would have had to settle for a score in the region of 130.

Captain Marvan Atapattu (14) looked in blazing form, especially when he struck Nathan Astle for a soaring six over the deep mid-wicket region to bring the crowd alive. But soon after, the former Sri Lankan skipper misjudged a slower delivery from Astle and was trapped LBW. The dismissal of Atapattu brought the Jets wicket-keeper Paul Nixon to the crease.

Nixon smashed four sixes and two boundaries in his astonishing 39-run knock. He targeted the area over deep square leg and Avinash Yadav was the bowler who suffered the most from his assault. The greatest feature of the Jets' innings was the manner in which they paced their innings. The first 50 came from a run-a-ball and the next came from 45 balls. The last 50 came from just 21 balls!

The left-handed Nixon maintained an unbelievable strike rate of 278 in his innings. Delhi Jets batsmen smashed five sixes in their innings when compared to the three struck by Mumbai.

The Delhi Jets clash against the Kolkata Tigers tomorrow evening. The Champs, on the other hand will collide against the in-form Chandigarh Lions on Sunday evening.

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