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Hall steer Lions into the grand finale

The Chandigarh Lions have registered a dramatic 4-wicket victory against the Delhi Jets to join Chennai Superstars in the grand finale on Sunday night.

Chasing a target of 149, the home team achieved the total with just 2 deliveries to spare. Chris Cairns (26) and Andrew Hall (20) were the unbeaten batsmen when the team romped home.

It went down to the wire and the huge leap made by Andrew Hall after hitting the winning runs suggested how ravenous the Chandigarh Lions were to win the second semi-final of the ICL Indian 20:20 Championship.

Chris Cairns played an uncharacteristic knock, biding his time and fitting into the shoes of ‘captain cool’. He started very attentively but unleashed on the Jets bowlers when his team got closer to the target. Hall and Cairns added 48 runs for the seventh-wicket to caper to triumph at the close. The crowds were extremely elated – giving a tremendous ovation to the home team – even when Cairns walked out to bat when the Lions

Syed Abbas Ali was declared the player of the match for his courageous half-century, despite the loss of his team. Ali ended a successful tournament on a high note – ending with 181 runs from six matches.

The Lions were left with 47 runs to win from the last five overs with their two biggest superstars at the crease – Dinesh Mongia and Chris Cairns. The former tried to play an over extravagant hook shot off Abid Nabi’s bowling and lost his stumps in the process.

The dismissals of Farhat and C Sharma in the space of three deliveries turned the match around in the Jets’ favour, bringing Dinesh Mongia and Manish Sharma to the middle in the high intensity match-up.

Imran Farhat (19) who is in majestic form, looked like he was going to make short work of the target before a master stroke from Chris Cairns to introduce part time spinner Dhruv Mahajan, sent Farhat back to the dug out. The left-hander went after an overambitious heave and lost his middle stump in the process.

The in-form duo of Tejinder Pal Singh (6) and Chetan Sharma (6) were victims to fiery young all-rounder Taduri Sudhindra (3/27) who followed up from his terrific unbeaten knock of 33 prior to his bowling effort. TP Singh was caught and bowled whereas Chetan Sharma lofted a delivery to third man to give an easy catch to seamer Abid Nabi.

Hamish Marshall (12) and Imran Farhat (19) got the Lions off to a steady start – piling up 37 runs within the first four overs. Marshall was bowled by Sudhindra for 12 to give the Jets their first breakthrough.

Earlier, Abbas Ali continued his good run of form for the Delhi Jets and ensured the team posted a healthy 148/4. Atapattu’s team was without the services of two crucial players – opener Taufiq Umar and wicket-keeper batsman Paul Nixon.

Ali smashed 57 runs from 40 balls – a knock that included 4 sixes and a couple of boundaries. In-form opening batsman Mohnish Mishra (1) was the first to be dismissed after Atapattu had won the toss and elected to bat first. Andrew Hall got Mishra to nick an outswinger to wicket-keeper Sarabjeet Singh.

Atapattu (17) joined Benkenstein (28) at the wicket and the duo retaliated and added 33 runs for the second-wicket. The former fell victim to a flighted Dinesh Mongia (2/32) delivery and the dismissal brought Abbas Ali to the middle.

The duo of Ali and Benkenstein continued to set the pace, partnering for 45 runs, until the latter was Mongia’s next victim. Despite the fall of wickets, Ali continued to play his strokes and entertained the Sunday evening audience that had gathered at the Tau Devi Lal Stadium in Panchkula, Chandigarh.

Ali was joined by young promising all-rounder Taduri Sudhindra (33 not out) who played positive strokes from the word go. He maintained a strike rate of 150 and added 59 runs for the fourth-wicket with Ali. The duo steered the team within touching distance of the magical 150 figure until the well-set Ali was eventually dismissed by Amit Uniyal, caught by Tejinder Pal Singh at the long off boundary.

Left-arm seamer Uniyal (1/33) bowled a terrific last over – conceding only 5 runs to Sudhindra and JP Yadav – not allowing the Jets to finish the innings on a high note. Atapattu probably missed the services of his chief concluding proficient batsman Paul Nixon, who was unwell and missed being a part of the all-important semi-final match.

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