A few hundred fans turned up to watch the start of Northern Knights’ 33-run win over South African outfit Cape Cobras in the Champions League T20 at the Saheed Vir Narayan Singh International stadium on Friday evening.
The rain did play spoilsport and in the end the winners were decided using the Duckworth-Lewis method, but over the years, Indian fans’ reluctance to treat the IPL and CLT20 with similar enthusiasm has been proved beyond reasonable doubt, even during some of the matches featuring an IPL team.
The seats filled up slightly as Knights’ opener Kane Williamson reached his maiden century inn this format unleashing a barrage of thumping shots all round the park.
This was his 88th T20 tie, 68 of them being in New Zealand’s domestic tournament, but with two confident 50s in the qualifying stages of this event already, the three-figure mark only showed how well he has adapted to the subcontinent conditions, even though all the three innings have now come at the same venue.
The 24-year-old Williamson, who has been New Zealand’s middle-order mainstay for some time, took just 49 balls to get to his unbeaten 101, hitting eight fours and five sixes. He could have missed his mark as there were just three balls left in the innings and he was still nine shy. But a six over mid-on on a free hit off
Vernon Philander got him close. A boundary off the last ball got him there.
Cobras’ decision to bowl first on this slow track backfired. Williamson and Anton Devcich gave them a flying start, stitching together 140 runs in 13.4 overs. They finished with 206 for five in 20 and when rain stopped Cobras’ innings, the South African team was just 44 for two in 7.2 overs.