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Lions win run-feast against Champs by 38 runs

Chandigarh Lions registered a 38-run victory over the Mumbai Champs to legitimately send Lara's team crashing out of the tournament and almost definitely, booking themselves a place in the semi-final stages.

It was a night of monstrous hitting – 14 sixes were struck in the match to send shivers down the spines of the cheerful fans. Player of the match Chris Cairns walloped seven of those sensational blows. Lara (9) looked in sublime form before being dismissed courtesy of the ‘catch of the tournament' by Hamish Marshall. The Kiwi leaped and grabbed the ball in thin air – the prince was ordained to leave the ground on a spectacular note.

A courageous run-chase was brought to life by Dheeraj Jadhav (58 from 39 balls), Kiran Powar (54 from 30 balls) and some other usable offerings but the propelling knock from Chris Cairns almost overshadowed and trounced the Champs' efforts. The captain of the Chandigarh Lions, clean shaved and all was clearly the star of the night.

Lara and Astle initiated the charge against the Lions bowlers by opening the batting. Both players looked at their fluent best before falling for 9 and 13 respectively. Astle was trapped in front by debutant Love Ablish and the Chandigarh Lions had started to roar.

It was the perfect setting for a feast of a match for the chock-a-block spectators that had gathered here at the Tau Devi Lal Stadium in Panchkula, Chandigarh on a shimmering Sunday evening. It was a virtual do-or-die encounter between the Chandigarh Lions and the Mumbai Champs. Both teams had to win in order to stay afloat at the event.

The Chandigarh Lions captain struck a 17-ball half-century give the knockout blow to Lara and his boys. Cairns brought up his half century in just 17 balls. Cairns influenced his team to set a daunting target of 220 for the struggling Champs. Remember, Lara and his band had to win this to stay afloat in the competition.

Manish Sharma (37 not out from 22 balls) gave great support to his captain and the duo added 75 runs for fourth-wicket. Tejinder Pal Singh had scored 27 fluent runs before holding out to the third man boundary to Rakesh Patel, off Avinash Yadav's bowling.

The records tumbled on this night – 1) highest total of the tournament (219/4), 2) second highest total (181/5), 3) quickest fifty (Cairns – 17 balls), maximum sixes (Cairns – 7) and plenty more! There were more interesting statistics – the bowlers gave away 39 extras (23 by Champs and 16 by Lions).

Chris Cairns, the captain of the Chandigarh Lions, won the toss and elected to bat first. His openers, Hamish Marshall and Imran Farhat did not disappoint the crowd's desires and gave them what they wanted – a full flurry of strokes and plenty of boundaries to kick things off!

Farhat, who has emerged as one of the leading run-scorers of the tournament, continued his good run of form. The duo brought up the fifty in just five overs and scripted what was to follow. The left-hander scored a brisk 34 before being bowled by Nathan Astle.

It didn't help the Champs' cause when Avinash Yadav dropped a sitter when TP Singh hoisted one down the ground. The ball popped out of his hand and went away to the long on boundary to make matters worse for a worried Brian Lara.

The Champs conceded as many as 16 extras in less than 6 overs! A score in excess of 170 for the home team was clearly on the cards, unless Lara's boys could have triggered a late collapse. The situation worsened for the Champs when Chris Cairns walked out to the middle and took the game by the scruff off the neck.

There was a clear distinction between the two teams, when referring to the pace of scoring. The Champs took 12 overs to bring up their hundred, when compared to the 10.4 overs taken by the Lions. Lara's team managed 5 sixes in their innings whereas Cairns alone struck seven and his team totaled for a whooping nine.

What next for the Champs? The Lara-led team is officially out of the tournament's semi-final stages. They will play for pride when the clash against the Kolkata Tigers tomorrow night. The Lions, on the other hand will have to sit back, relax and hope that their net run-rate is better than the other teams to make the cut to the semi-final stage.

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