Friday, October 23, 2009

Lee powers NSW to Airtel CL T20 title

New South Wales were crowned the inaugural Airtel CL T20 winners after they snapped Trinidad & Tobago's fairytale campaign with a 41-run victory.

In a high-voltage summit clash in Hyderabad on Friday night, New South Wales had the last laugh with Brett Lee as their star performer.

In the title showdown featuring top two teams of the tournament, it was a battle between Caribbean flair and Australian profressionalism.

Put into bat, NSW fumbled and faltered in their innings to slump to 83 for six in the 12th over before finding a messiah in Lee, whose whirlwind 48 off 31 balls, along with Steven Smith's 33, guided them to 159 for nine.

Trinidad & Tobago's chase never gathered momentun and Kieron Pollard's (26 off 15 balls) last ditch attempt was not enough as the Caribbeans side folded for 118 in 15.5 overs.

After his batting heroics, Lee (2/10) was in the thick of action again, claiming two quick wickets to reduce T&T to 21 for three in the first eventful 14 balls.
Lee's second delivery castled the scoreless Wiliam Perkins and the blond pacer returned to catch Lendl Simmons off his own bowling in the next over.

In between, Adrian Barath hit Steve Smith's first three balls for successive fours followed it with a six before returning caught behind off the last delivery.

For T&T, crisis further compounded as Dwayne Bravo (17), and captain Darren Ganga (19) and Denesh Ramadin (16) fell when the team needed them most.

Pollard (26) tried to replicate the form he had shown in the league match against NSW but Nathan Hauritz had other ideas and for T&T, the match was over when Pollard fell in the 15th over.

Earlier, NSW discovered a batting hero in Brett Lee whose stunning 48, along with Steven Smith's 33, took the Australians past the 150-mark after they had slumped to 83 for six inside 12 overs.

Put into bat, NSW never really got going with Ravi Rampaul (3/20) and Dwayne Bravo (2/27) polishing the top order before some poor shot selections did the middle order in.

Down the order, Steven Smith, however, refused to throw in the towel and Lee then came up with a 31-ball blitzkrieg, studded with four fours and five sixes, before falling in the last ball of the innings.

David Warner and Phil Hughes have been key to New South Wales' success in the tournament so far but the left-handed opening pair, for once, proved they too had feet of clay.

Rampaul cleaned up Hughes (3) with the first delivery of his second over and then Bravo combined with an airborne Dave Mohammad to cut short Warner's (19) stay just when the stocky left-hander had started looking his ominous self.

Both the in-form NSW openers back in the hut inside five overs with the score reading a mere 32, this was clearly not the best of starts for the Australian side.

Simon Katich (16) decided to punish Bravo, hitting him for two sixes -- one miscued shot soared over long-on ropes and another effortless pull cleared fine leg -- in the same over before the pacer returned to settle score.

Three balls later, Moises Henriques (4) joined his captain in the hut, holing out in the deep off Kieron Pollard, and NSW were clearly in a hole at 49 for four.

Dave Mohammad removed Ben Rohrer (16) with his first delivery and Rampaul returned to disturb Daniel Smith's timbers in the next over before Lee joined Smith in the middle to steady the ship.

Even after Smith returned, there was no containing Lee who swung his bat to good effect to help the side cross the 150-mark that had looked a distant dream at one stage.

New South Wales: PJ Hughes, DA Warner, DLR Smith†, MC Henriques, SM Katich, BJ Rohrer, SPD Smith, B Lee, NM Hauritz, SR Clark, DE Bollinger.

Trinidad & Tobago: A Barath, WKD Perkins, LMP Simmons, D Ganga, DJ Bravo, KA Pollard, D Ramdin†, S Ganga, ND Stewart, D Mohammed, R Rampaul.

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