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Champs upset Lions in 35 run win

The Mumbai Champs put in one of their best performances in the Edelweiss 20s Challenge to upset the Chandigarh Lions by 35 runs at the Tau Devi Lal Stadium in Gurgaon.

The Champs, who elected to bat first scored 160 for nine in their allotted 20 overs, and then a disciplined bowling performance helped the Mumbai side win only their second match of the tournament.

The stars for the Champs with the bat were Subhojit Paul (30), skipper Nathan Astle (42) and Ranjit Khirid (32), while S Khanolkar and Kiran Powar chipped in with useful contributions. The Champs though didn't have the best of starts as opener D Jadhav was caught in the slips off Andrew Hall's bowling in the third ball of the match with no runs on the board, and was soon joined in the pavilion by R Patil, who was dismissed by Daryl Tuffey in the fourth over with the Mumbai team having made only 15 runs.

Paul was joined by Astle at the fall of Patil's wicket and the duo batted sensibly as they set about repairing the innings and put on 60 runs for the third wicket in only six overs before Paul was cleaned up by L Ablish. Astle, who had played himself and was looking set for a big score, was the fourth wicket to fall, when he pulled a long hop from his opposite number Chris Cairns to Hall. Astle was livid with himself as he made his way back to the pavilion.

Powar and Khanolkar were then dismissed within a couple of overs of each other, but Khirid who played a gem of a cameo, scoring his 32 runs off only 21 balls, ensured the run rate didn't slip towards the end of the innings to help the Champs score their highest total yet in the tournament.

Hall (3-0-8-4) was the pick of the Lions' bowlers, while Tuffey, Cairns, Ablish and Lo Vincent all took a wicket each. Cairns, Tuffey and Dinesh Mongia, with economy rates of over nine per over, were the most expensive bowlers for the Lions.

The Lions never got going in their run chase and the fall of wickets at regular intervals didn't help their cause either. The first wicket to fall was that of Manish Sharma who was run out after a horrible mix-up with his opening partner Vincent. Vincent and TP Singh then put on 39 runs for the second wicket -- the best partnership of the innings -- before Vincent was caught in the deep by S Iyer off Khirid's bowling after having made 17. Singh followed Vincent soon after for 21 after being caught off Iyer's bowling.

The onus was then on Mongia and Cairns to put the innings back on track, but both disappointed and were out for 15 and 6 respectively. In fact, the Lions had scored only 72 runs in 14 overs when Cairns was dismissed -- an indication that the Champs' bowlers had finally got their act together. And, though Chetan Sharma hit three sixes in his knock of 25, it was too late for the Lions to mount any serious challenge on the target.

G Gupta and Tuffey were the unbeaten batsmen at the end of the match, with the Lions managing to score only 125 for eight in their 20 overs.

Iyer was the most impressive of the Champs bowlers, giving away only 13 runs and picking up two wickets in his four overs. He was well supported by Khirid (1-21) and Michael Kasprowicz (2-20).

The Lions, who have now lost three of their five matches, next face Kolkata Tigers in a must-win match at Gurgaon on Wednesday night; while the Champs who have won two of their six matches play Hyderabad Heroes at Hyderabad on March 31.

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