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Captain McMillan thumps Tigers past Jets

The Kolkata Tigers have registered a thumping 4-wicket victory over the Delhi Jets to make a strong claim for a semi-final berth at the ICL Indian 20:20 Championship.

Sparkling knocks from hostile players Craig McMillan (58 not out) and Lance Klusener (27) ensured the Tigers won the match with seven balls to spare.

Lance Klusener was adjudged the player of the match for his overall performance. The South African claimed 3/16 with the ball and followed up with a cracking knock of 27.

Chasing a challenging target of 150 for victory, the Tigers stumbled to 62/5 at one stage and an insistent 85-run partnership between McMillan and Klusener handed the Jets their second loss of the tournament. Captain Craig McMillan struck a brilliant 23-ball half century and thoroughly entertained a Saturday evening audience here at the Tau Devi Lal Stadium in Panchkula, Chandigarh.

The outcome catapulted the Kolkata Tigers to second place in the points tally and meant that the Jets are in a must-win situation when they collide against the roaring Chennai Superstars on Wednesday, December 12.

McMillan took a liking to Abbas Ali and amassed 24 runs from one of his overs – smashing the part-timer for three sixes. Klusener got some inspiration from his skipper and got into the act himself, targeting Abhishek Sharma, smashing the youngster for two sixes in the seventeenth over to give the knockout blow to the Delhi Jets.

Tigers' wicket-keeper batsman Deep Dasgupta, who was promoted to open the innings scored a brisk 32 to lay a solid platform for the middle-order. He was ably supported by promising talent Abhishek Jhunjhunwala (20) – the duo added 42 for the second wicket after Darren Maddy (4) fell victim in the first over of the run-chase to Shalabh Srivastava (1/30).

Veteran South African Dale Benkenstein provided the crucial breakthrough for the Jets when he dismissed Jhunjhunwala and Subhomoy Das in the space of ten deliveries. Juvenile left-arm orthodox bowler Ali Murtaza (2/7) was the star bowler for the Atapattu-led team – conceding a record seven runs from his four overs and claiming two wickets.

Murtaza trapped Dasgupta LBW and soon after, pressured Rohan Gavaskar (1) to drag one back to his stumps. The flurry of wickets and the mounting run-rate brought the pair of McMillan and Klusener to the crease and the rest as they say, is history.

Earlier, Mohnish Mishra (61 from 46 balls) played the role of sheet anchor to a reputable total of 149/7 after Jets captain Marvan Atapattu won the toss and elected to bat first.

Tigers' quickie Nantie Hayward (1/18) triggered a disastrous start for the Jets when he dismissed danger man Taufiq Umar early. The player of the match from last night's game, Taduri Sudhindhra was promoted up the order and the young all-rounder did not last long either. He attempted an expansive stroke off Mihir Diwakar's bowling and was caught by Subhomoy Das at long on.

Mohnish Mishra smashed a Diwakar (1/26) delivery back and handed a forgettable, yet extraordinary experience to the left-am seamer. Diwakar didn't receive enough time to react and suffered a painful blow when the ball kissed his chin.

Atapattu (36 from 23 balls) joined Mishra at the crease and the duo added 69 runs for the fourth wicket, to grant a perfect launching pad for the likes of Nixon and Benkenstein, who were quite explosive last night in the encounter against the Mumbai Champs.

Nixon (9), Benkenstein (1) and JP Yadav could not capitalise on the good start and handed easy scalps for the Tigers towards the close of their innings – losing four wickets in the space of three overs.

Lance Klusener, who hasn't been a regular fixture in the bowling column for the Kolkata Tigers in the tournament, rolled him arm over and produced an immaculate spell for his captain. ‘Zulu' picked up three wickets and conceded only 16 runs from his four overs. He snapped the crucial wickets of Mishra, Abbas Ali and Benkenstein and also took a neat catch to get rid of Atapattu.

The Kolkata Tigers have almost certainly established a place in the final four of the tournament, primarily due to their huge increase in the net run rate. The Jets have suffered a major setback and will hope for a good showing against the Superstars to qualify for the semi-finals.

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