Chris Cairns was at his best on Sunday. The tall and sturdy all-rounder unleashed the best and the most destructive innings of the tournament to keep Brian Lara-led Mumbai Champs desperately awaiting their first win and brighten up the chances of Chandigarh Lions to reach the semis.
Chandigarh Lions the team Cairns is leading in the tournament were cruising along nicely even before the skipper strode in. But once he was in, the Lions began sprinting at a breakneck speed, crossing one landmark after another, and eventually halting at a daunting 219 the highest total of the tournament.
In the process, Chris Cairns smashed a thrilling 26-ball 70, studded with seven scorching sixes and four fabulous fours. Once he got started, the ball remained more out of the boundary rope than inside and cheerleaders hardly got a chance to catch their breath. Such was his dominance that Champs, including their skipper Lara, were at one stage left simply smiling — a smile of appreciation and helplessness. The crowd though were simply delirious. They have already seen some scorchers in the tournament, but nothing came even close to this onslaught.
Once the Lions amassed the mountain of runs, the Champs needed a Herculean effort to upstage it. And much depended on Lara. The West Indian came out to open with Astle, obviously wanting to lead the chase from the front. Alas, the execution didn't match the intentions; the legendary left-hander once again fell cheaply (9) after his brief and tentative stay. It was Kiran Powar (54 off 30) and Dheeraj Jadhav (58 off 39) who infused some life into the Champs innings by coming up with valiant half centuries later down the order. The duo did put in their best, but they were always fighting a lost battle after big guns like Lara and Astle failed to fire at the top.
Chandigarh Lions 219 for 4 in 20 overs (C Cairns 70, M Sharma 37 n o, I Farhat 34; N Astle 2/31) bt Mumbai Champs 181 for 5 in 20 overs (D Jadhav 58 n o, K Powar 54; TP Singh 1/7); Chennai Superstars 162 for 4 in 20 overs (I Harvey 63 n o, S Law 44, H Badani 31 n o; A Mahmood 1/23) lost to Hyderabad Heroes 165 for 3 in 17.5 overs (Inzamam-ul-Haq 44 n o, A Razzaq 40 n o, A Singh 31; S Ahmed 1/27)