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A spectacular, unbeaten hundred from David Warner etched with 8 maximums and 11 fours propelled New South Wales Blues into the semi-finals of the Champions League. The former champions, NSW, who dethroned the reigning champions, Chennai Super Kings by 46 runs scaled the 200 mountain and bowled effectively in the vital middle overs to also knock-out Trinidad & Tobago, who have time again scripted spirited displays. Warner's innings 135 will definitely plunge into the history books as one of the finest ever in this format of the game.
The Chennai Super Kings, who have failed to fire in unison in the CLT20 took on the New South Wales Blues, who were fresh off a stunning win against the Mumbai Indians in a high voltage knockout clash at the M.A. Chidambaram stadium. Earlier in the evening, the ever-popular Trinidad & Tobago outfit knocked out the Cape Cobras which meant that Chennai's safety net was strengthened. CSK, who required to win the match by a sizable margin to progress to the semis instigated one change with Nuwan Kulasekara replacing the injured Albie Morkel, while the Blues resorted to their winning eleven. Simon Katich, who won the toss on a slow, low pitch elected to put runs on the board. With the coveted semi final spot up for grabs, the game had all the ingredients of a thriller.
The Lankan pacer Kulasekara nipped the ball around and kick-started proceedings for CSK in steady fashion. At the other end, Shane Watson pounced on his fellow Aussie, Doug Bollinger to plunder 3 fours. Warner soon joined the act to silence the home crowd and his switch shots off R.Ashwin were truly majestic. The powerplay belonged to the Blues as the two W's - Watson and Warner - got NSW off to a rollicking start. New South Wales were 50 for none in 6 overs.
CSK received some respite as R.Ashwin foxed Watson in his 3rd over for slightly better than a run-a-ball 21. The in-form Steve Smith was bumped up the order in a bid to keep the score-board ticking. Jakati, whose catching has been dismal in the tournament spilled top gun-Warner in the 10th over to aggravate Chennai's misery as the Blues churned out fruitful overs with no fuss.
Warner raced to an entertaining fifty off just 33 deliveries with a cracking pull stroke off Jakati. Warner oozed agression coupled with power whilst Smith spruced up the running between the wickets. Chennai's bowlers surrendered to the might of 'Daredevil' Warner as the pressure got the better of the Men in Yellow. NSW were sitting pretty after constructing 134-1 in 15 overs.
It kept raining sixes and fours as even Chennai's premier bowler - R.Ashwin was not spared. Kulasekara who came back into the attack dismissed Steven Smith for an eye catching 31 as Saha took a wonderful catch in the deep. Warner meanwhile continued to go all guns blazing and brought up the first century of the tournament on arguably the most important day for his side. Moises Henriques required no warm up balls as he launched Bravo over the ropes on the first ball of the 18th over. The Blues looted 39 runs off the last 2 overs to sky-rocket them to a humongous total of 201-2 in 20 overs. Warner's undefeated 135 at strike rate nearing 200 indeed ripped apart the clueless Super Kings.
Mr.Cricket, Michael Hussey got the Super Kings off to an ideal start by orchestrating 3 sumptuous fours in the 1st over. Murali Vijay also dealt in boundaries to keep the audience on their feet. Young Pat Cummins' canny bowling stemmed the free flow of runs. Hussey, who was CSK's key towards unlocking the semi-final puzzle, steered them to 49-0 at the end of an action-packed powerplay.
Just when Hussey was on the verge of turning the heat on the Blues, the umpire raised his dreaded finger to declare the southpaw lbw for 37 off 27 balls. India's gen-next poster boy, Raina, left no stone unturned in galvanizing the tempo though the Blues struck back with O'Keefe bowling Vijay. O'Keefe then became the man of the hour as he engineered a double strike in his next over to nail Captain Dhoni for 2 and deputy Raina for a 14-ball 28.
The Super Kings, who needed to chase down 201 within 17 overs to stay afloat in the lucrative tournament, found themselves on the verge of elimination when they lost Bravo and Saha in consecutive overs. 'Superman' David Warner masterminded Saha's dismissal-courtesy a spectacular piece of fielding. Then, the immaculate Clark dusted Badrinath off Chepauk to leave CSK reeling at 120-7 in 15 overs.
Wickets continued to tumble as CSK managed to muster only 143-8 in 17 overs, which confirmed that the holders were knocked out of the CLT20. Kulasekara and Bollinger chanced their arm a bit and offered something for the loyal Chennai fans to cheer about . Swiftly though Chennai were skittled out for 155 within the allocated 20 overs. The Men in Light Blue, New South Wales, joined the Men in dark blue, Mumbai Indians, to go through to the semi-finals from Group A.
Chennai, who have been very ordinary in the CLT20 have been chucked out of the tournament by 'Whirlwind Warner'. NSW's emphatic victory has also shut T&T out of Cricket's magnum opus. The Blues have peaked at crucial juncture to seal a spot in the semis. The rampaging NSW Blues will next confront the second placed team of Group B at the same venue this Saturday in the 2nd semi-final.
NSW: 201-2(20 overs, 10.05 rpo)
D.Warner 135*(69) N.Kulasekara 1-23
S.Smith 31(29) R.Ashwin 1-32
CSK:155 all out(18.5 overs, 8.23 rpo)
M.Hussey 37(27) S.O'Keefe 3-28
S.Raina 28(14) M.Starc 2-21
NSW win by 46 runs
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