Malinga Strikes Put Mumbai Indians in CLT 20 Final

Chennai, Oct 9 (IANS): Lasith Malinga's crushing yorkers and a crucial double strike by James Franklin carried Mumbai Indians to a 10-run win against Somerset and into the final of the Nokia Champions League T20 tournament here on Saturday.

Malinga picked up four wickets, all of them clean-bowled, as Somerset fell to 150 for eight replying to Mumbai Indians' 160 for five. In the final Sunday, Mumbai take on Royal Challengers Bangalore.

A half-century (62) by Craig Kieswetter put Somerset in sight of a possible victory, but seamer James Franklin delivered a double strike in the 19th over to set the stage for a similar performance in the 20th by Malinga who added two more to the two he had taken at the start of the innings.

The Mumbai Indians revolved around a fighting 54 by opener Aiden Blizzard and some big hitting late in the innings by the lower middle-order batsmen, Kieron Pollard (24), Surya Kumar Yadav (23 not out) and Sathish Rajagopal (25 not out).

Kieswatter was involved in two crucial partnerships, 83 for the third wicket with James Hildreth (39) and then 41 for the fourth with Jos Buttler (19) as Somerset came within striking distance of victory only to collapse in the last two overs.

Two early strikes by Malinga who took out opener Peter Trego and Roelf van der Merwe in his first and second overs, rocked Somerset on the backfoot, but not for long as Kieswetter and Hildreth put on 83 runs for the third wicket.

The duo batted quite smartly with nick-and-tuck tactics and occasionally while putting away the loose balls. Their partnership was marked by patience rather than flamboyance, but it did the trick for Somerset as it brought them within sight of victory.

Hildreth, though, seemed to get carried away and was bowled off Harbhajan when he walked right across the stumps to play across, missed and had his stumps knocked back.

The 17th over, bowled by young Abu Nechim fetched Someset 16 runs and they needed 29 off the final three. Malinga went for seven in the 18th and Franklin removed Buttler and Kieswetter in the next to deliver crucial blows.

Going into the final over, Somerset needed 15, but it was never to be as Malinga removed Nick Compton and Murali Karthik with searing yorkers that brooked no response to close out the game.

The Mumbai innings promised a lot, but delivered little as besides Blizzard and Kieron Pollard, no other batsman looked capable of acceleration that was required for the team to get up to a decent score.

Blizzard batted well enough for his half-century though he never quite collard the bowling attack that at best was restrictive. A few pleasing drives and big hits marked the southpaw's innings that ended in the 13th over when he played across, missed and was bowled, presenting left-arm spinner Murali Karthik his only wicket.

Pollard threatened to break free, but apart from the two sixes, he did not look comfortable, especially when denied pace. Eventually, desperation got the better of him and was bowled neck and crop by the crafty seamer Alfonso Thomas.

However, Thomas leaked 20 runs in his final over and the 19th of the innings as the pair of Rajagopal Sathish and Surya Kumar Yadav delivered a few lusty blows to take Mumbai total past 160.

The sixth wicket pair added 43 precious runs to provide Mumbai Indians a very defendable target on a surface that again put a premium on stroke-making.


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