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Lions crush Mumbai Indian by 8 wickets in Johannesburg

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The Highveld Lions crushed the Mumbai Indians by 8 wickets in Johannesburg on Sunday evening to get their Champions League T20 campaign off to a great start. The home side made perfect use of familiar conditions, restricting the Mumbai Indians to an under par 157-6 with none of the Mumbai batsmen managing to get past 30. Dirk Nannes and Aaron Phangiso were particularly impressive taking 2-32 from the 8 overs they bowled between them. Despite a slow start, the Lions made easy work of the target, largely due to an unbeaten 121 run stand between two batsmen at opposite ends of their cricket careers as veteran Neil Mackenzie (68* from 41 balls) and Quinton de Kock (51* from 33 balls) led them to an excellent win. 

The Highveld Lions won the toss and slightly surprisingly opted to put the Mumbai Indians in, despite the result in the previous game favouring the side batting first. Sachin Tendulkar and Dwayne Smith opened the batting for Mumbai, and raced to 32 inside 3 overs, helped largely by some wayward bowling by an over excited Lions bowling unit guilty of going for a bit too much.

Mumbai posted a sensational 53 runs in their powerplay, a fact that was even more amazing considering that bat barely dominated ball. The Indians though had lost Dwayne Smith for 26, with most of the West Indians' runs having come from boundaries.

Left-arm spinner Aaron Phangiso came on and immediately put the Indians in a bit of bind. The youngster was rewarded with the massive wicket of Sachin Tendulkar, whose uncharacteristic hoick saw him miss the ball, falling for a poor 16 from 24 balls.

Rohit Sharma came out at no.3 and made a run a ball 27 to keep Mumbai in the contest, but Mitchell Johnson, who was bumped up to no.4 rather surprisingly struggled to lay bat on ball. Sharma was cleaned up by the returning Dirk Nannes, bringing Kieron Pollard to the crease with the scoreboard reading 99-3 at the end of 14 overs.

The runs came freely for the Mumbai Indians in the last 6 overs, despite none of their batsmen really dominating proceedings. Kieron Pollard made a quick 11 before he was cleaned up by a gorgeous yorker from Sohail Tanveer. Mitchell Johnson contributed a decent 30 from 29 balls, however, failed to land the big blows for which he was really pushed up the order. Dinesh Karthik made a breezy unbeaten 19 from just 9 balls to give late impetus to the innings as Mumbai posted a competitive 157-6 from their 20 overs. The IPL side benefitted greatly from 24 extras, propping up their scorecard at the bottom.

Mumbai made a good start with the ball, conceding just 2 runs from the first two overs, including a maiden from Lasith Malinga. The Lions though recovered to reach 36 at the end of the powerplay for the loss of skipper Alviro Petersen, caught brilliantly by Ambati Rayudu at short point.

Gulam Bodi, who had been really struggling out in the middle did finally land a big blow, but was dismissed shortly after for 19, falling to the guile of Harbhajan Singh.

The Lions though battled back through under-19 star Quinton de Kock and veteran Neil McKenzie, who stitched together a useful partnership to keep the match very evenly poised. Heading into the last 6 overs, the Lions needed 64 to win with both batsmen well set and plenty of wickets in hand.

Consecutive double digit overs off Kieron Pollard and Dhawal Kulkarni set the Lions on course to victory. Neil McKenzie in particular was playing a bit of a blinder, racing to his half-century off just 33 balls, and celebrating the milestone by smashing Harbhajan Singh for three consecutive boundaries to bring the equation down to just over a run a ball heading into the last three overs.

De Kock, who had been deprived of the strike for a while, also recorded a very well deserved half-century, matching McKenzie's effort of getting to the landmark in 33 balls. McKenzie knocked off the winning runs in the penultimate over to seal a comfortable 8 wicket victory, the first in this tournament for a side chasing.

The Lions will look to go 2-0 against IPL sides when they take on the Chennai Super Kings on Tuesday at Cape Town. The Mumbai Indians meanwhile have an extra couple of days to figure out their best combination when they face Yorkshire on Thursday at the same venue. Both of those games are scheduled for an evening start.

Teams:

Mumbai Indians: Dwayne Smith, Sachin Tendulkar, Rohit Sharma, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Kieron Pollard, Ambati Rayudu, Mitchell Johnson, Harbhajan Singh (c), Dhawal Kulkarni, Lasith Malinga, Pragyan Ojha.

Highveld Lions: Alviro Petersen (c), Gulam Bodi, Quinton de Kock, Neil McKenzie, Jean Symes, Thami Tsolekile (wk), Zander de Bruyn, Chris Morris, Sohail Tanvir, Aaron Phangiso, Dirk Nannes.

Mini Scorecard:

Mumbai Indians 157-6 (20 overs, 7.85rpo)
M Johnson 30 (29) S Tanvir 2-31
R Sharma 27 (27) D Nannes 1-15

Highveld Lions 158-2 (18.5 overs, 8.38rpo)
N McKenzie 68* (41) L Malinga 1-18
Q de Kock 51* (33) H Singh 1-36

Lions win by 8 wickets