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Tigers batter Heroes to clinch semis berth

Craig McMillan led from the front to steer the Kolkata Tigers past the Hyderabad Heroes to clinch the fourth and final place in the semi-finals of the championship.

The 53-run victory catapulted the Tigers to the top of the final points tally.

Chasing a reasonable target of 169 for victory, the Hyderabad Heroes stumbled to 115 all out, under lights amidst an electric atmosphere, here at the Tau Devi Lal Stadium in Panchkula, Chandigarh. The loss meant that both Inzamam and Lara would not feature in the semi-final stages of the tournament.

Tigers’ paceman Sujoy Tarafdar was adjudged the player of the match for his match-winning spell. The youngster snapped three crucial wickets of Shashang Nag (2) and Ambati Rayudu (14), Chris Harris (0) and moreover, conceded only twenty runs from his four-over spell.

Tarafdar was the chief tormentor taking three wickets in his very first over. Boje was brilliantly caught by Abhishek Jhunjhunwala at point and off the very next ball Harris too was trapped plump in front of the stumps.

A late recovery from all-rounders Abdul Razzaq (37) and Azhar Mahmood (24) provided a glimmer of hope for the Heroes, but there was way too much for the tailenders to do following the duo’s dismissals. Lance Klusener (3/26), Nantie Hayward (2/15) and Upul Chandana (1/19) played able supporting acts for the star of the night – Sujoy Tarafdar.

Inzamam-ul-Haq was dismissed LBW to Nantie Hayward, a decision that obviously didn’t please the batsman. He shrugged off, looking agitated and in stress as his team was in absolute totters at 23/5 when he walked off the park.

Inzamam’s brigade got off to the worst possible start when his team staggered to 7/4 at one stage. Ibrahim Khaleel (1) was the first to be dismissed to a quick Nantie Hayward delivery – the off stump was uprooted to the extent that it had to be changed!

It was a virtual quarter final and there was a calling for the experienced pros to step up the gas and so they did! Inzamam-ul-Haq won the toss and inserted Tigers into bat, primarily due to teams finding it easier to chase down totals over the last couple of days.

Earlier, Tigers’ English opener Darren Maddy (32) got the team off to a stead start but not a scintillating one. He laid the perfect platform for Abishek Jhunjhunwala (33) and Craig McMillan (50) to give the team the much needed thrust during the middle overs.

The duo added 71 runs for the third-wicket and spoilt Inzy’s plans, especially after the Heroes had the Tigers on the ropes on 57/2 at a meager run-rate of 6. The Kolkata-based team needed to desperately accelerate the pace and the Jhunjhunwala-McMillan pair came to the party for them!

McMillan continued his tremendous striking form by sending four more out of the park to give the crowd a lot to cheer about. The Kiwi took his tally of sixes in the tournament to a whopping 11 – which is also the highest by any player so far.

Lance Klusener provided the Tigers with the finishing blitz courtesy of a 15-ball knock of 24 runs to ensure the team posted a respectable total of 165/5.

The Heroes lost heaps of wickets and could bat out only 16.2 overs – indicating that they could have been closer to the winning target, if their batsmen would have enforced some application.

The Kolkata Tigers will collide against the Chennai Superstars on Friday, December 14. The Chandigarh Lions, on the other hand, will take on the Delhi Jets on Saturday, December 15. In a 5/6 classification match, Lara and Inzamam will square off against each other on the same day.

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