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Mercurial Mumbai squeeze past Somerset into Champions League Final

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lasith_malingaLasith Malinga's fast and furious spell of 4-20 enabled the Mumbai Indians to get the better of the wily Somerset Sabres in the 2nd semi-final of the CLT20. The Sabres had been the better side for 37 overs, but a Lasith Malinga and James Franklin bowled three great overs at the death between them to leave the Sabres 10 runs shy of their target. Mumbai took the game by the scruff of its neck in the 19th over when Frankin delivered a deadly double blow to see the back of England internationals Craig Kieswetter and Butler. The final over saw Malinga do what the Sabres feared. Earlier in the evening, MI scored a competitive 160-5 thanks to a sparkling 54 by Aiden Blizzard and a useful cameo from R.Satish. Mumbai will now face the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the title-clash on Sunday at Chepauk.

The unlikely semi-finalists - Somerset and Mumbai battled it out at the M.A.Chidambaram stadium, Chennai on a dicey Jekyll-n-Hyde wicket for an appointment with the red-hot Royal Challengers Bangalore in the CLT20 final. The return of local all-rounder Suryakumar Yadav from injury marked the end of Mumbai's concession of fielding 5 foreigners with the out of form Andrew Symonds missing the cut. Meanwhile, the Somerset Sabres resorted to the eleven which upstaged the mighty Chervolet Warriors on Wednesday. Harbhajan Singh won the toss and elected to put runs on the board in the high-pressure game.

The first powerplay belonged to the Mumbai Indians, who scored runs at a good clip. Thomas bowled an impressive first over while the swashbuckling Blizzard ruffled up Kirby at the other end by lighting up 3 boundaries. Soon, Somerset drew first blood as Sarul Kanwar holed out to Butler for only 3. Blizzard, though capitalized on a freebie from the ill-disciplined Kirby to strike the first six of the evening. Blizzard also blew away Adam Dibble as MI made 51-1 in the first 6 overs.

Ambati Rayudu, who held the MI innings together versus T&T was snapped up by Dibble for a run-a-ball 19. The Sabres slowly clawed back into the contest with a couple of tight overs as Dibble completed his quota with praise-worthy figures of 1-20.

Blizzard then brought up his fifty with a slog-swept 6 in the 11th over. 'Van the Man' in his 1st over turned the tables around by trapping Franklin lbw and Murali Kartik, who took a beating came back brilliantly to disturb the belligerent Blizzard's timber. The Sabres were cock-a-hoop as Mumbai faced the music. Pollard after a couple of uncharacteristic nudges whacked Van der Merwe over the fence. Mumbai though were still a little behind where they would have liked to be at 108-4 after 15 overs.

A majestic Pollard maximum welcomed Trego, whose first over cost 9 runs. The following over, Skipper Alfonso Thomas dented Mumbai's hopes by castling Pollard for 24 at a strike rate of 133. ICL hero R.Satish joined Suryakumar Yadav to infuse impetus to the sagging MI innings. Somerset's electrifying fielding smothered the IPL powerhouse who lost their way after a flying start. The talented Yadav finally got a move on with an inventive four while Satish's exploits helped the duo produce 20 runs off the 19th over from Thomas. Mumbai got 8 runs off the last over to reach a par score of 160 in their allocation of 20 overs.

Peter Trego, completed a disappointing consecutive duck as 'Sling Malinga' cleaned up the all-rounder up with a fiery yorker off his second ball.  Roelof van der Merwe, who has been a surprise package at one drop in this tournament upset Nechim's rhythm with a four past point. Fortune favored the bold South African as Nechim floored a difficult catch off his own bowling in the same over. But, the Lankan bowling machine Malinga in his 2nd over bowled Van der Merwe with a low full-toss in a beautiful exhibition of fast bowling. Hildreth took the initiative to break the shackles with a couple of lofty hits off the 5th over as Somerset limped to 35-2 in the powerplay.

Kieswetter and Hildreth began the stiff task of steadying the ship while Bhajji got off to a shaky start. Chahal also failed to contain the Somerset batsmen, who kept the scoring rate buzzing. An error in judgement at the deep guaranteed the English international star a life in the 11th over and the partnership blossomed as the Sabres reached a comfort zone.

Bhajji's experiment with Satish too failed, who spilled 13 runs off his first over. Almost immediately, the turbanator broke the partnership at the stoke of the 3 figure mark by dismissing Hildereth for better than a run-a-ball 39. The match was heading for a enthralling finish with the English county side at 110-3 after 15.

Kieswetter, who provided the innings substance collected another half a ton in the 16th over to keep the Sabres in the chase. The well-set Somerset wicket-keeper expectedly cut lose to whack 10 runs off the first two balls from Nechim's final over while the MI keeper had a forgettable day behind the stumps. Lasith Malinga's good 18th over meant that Alfonso Thomas and his merry men had to score 22 off the last 2 overs. Franklin bowled an unbelievable 19th over wherein he scalped both Kieswetter and Butler to knock the wind out of Somerset's sails. Malinga, who was bang on the target as usual conceded just 4 runs and  knocked over Compton and Kartik in the final over of the night to bowl the Indians to the final of the Champions League.


Mumbai Indian: A.Blizzard, A.Rayudu, S.Yadav, S.Kanwar, R.Satish, H.Singh(captain), J.Franklin, K.Pollard, L.Malinga, A.Nechim, Y.Chahal.

Somerset: P.Trego, C.Kieswetter, J.Butler, J.Hildreth, N.Compton, A.Suppiah, S.Kirby, A.Thomas(captain), R.van der Merwe, M.Kartik, A.Dibble.

Mini Scorecard:

MI: 160-5(20 overs, 8.0 rpo)
A.Blizzard 54(39) A.Dibble 1-20
R.Satish 25*(12) M.Kartik 1-30

Somerset: 150-7(20 overs, 7.5 rpo)
C.Kieswetter 62(46) L.Malinga 4-20
J.Hildreth 39(33) J.Franklin 2-16

Mumbai won by 10 runs.

File Photograph Copyright: ICC World T20