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Azhar Mahmood leads Auckland into the Champions League T20 proper

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Veteran Pakistani allrounder Azhar Mahmood showed the true value of experience in the Twenty20 format, producing the goods with both ba and ball to power Auckland into the main draw of the 2012 edition of the Champions League T20.

Following up on their comfortable win against the Sialkot Stallions on Tuesday, Auckland became the first qualifier to book their spot in the main event with an 8-wicket annihilation of the Hampshire Royals. Batting first, the Royals posted an under par 121-8 in their 20 overs, their innings largely curtailed by Mahmood, who took 5-24. If that wasn't enough of a match winning contribution, the veteran superstar came out at Centurion and blazed his way to an unbeaten 55 from just 31 balls to lead his side to a thumping win in just 14.3 overs.

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Dwayne Bravo and Anirudh Srikkanth ruled out of Champions League Twenty20

The Champions League Twenty20 Technical Committee has approved changes to the Chennai Super Kings, UVA Next and Yorkshire squads.

For the Chennai Super Kings, both Dwayne Bravo and Anirudh Srikkanth have been forced out of the tournament due to injuries. Bravo is suffering from a thigh strain and will be replaced by Sri Lankan bowler, Nuwan Kulasakera.

Srikkanth sustained a fall in a domestic cricket match last week and will be out of action for 6 weeks following a fracture to his right clavicle. He's place in the CSK squad will be taken by Shadab Jakati, a left arm spinner who previously played for CSK when the IPL was held in South Africa in 2009.

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Kolkata and Delhi in Group A, Chennai and Mumbai in Group B of Champions League T20

South Africa's reigning domestic T20 champions will take on Australia's domestic T20 runners-up, in the opening 'Group Stage' game of the Champions League Twenty20 2012. The Group Stage of the tournament will commence with a double-header at Centurion on 13 October 2012. Titans, the winners of the T20 Challenge in South Africa, will play the Perth Scorchers, runners-up in the Big Bash League. The game will be followed by one between Kolkata Knight Riders, the IPL 2012 champions, and Delhi Daredevils, who finished third in the same tournament.

The final of the Champions League Twenty20 2012 will be played on 28 October 2012, at the Wanderers, Johannesburg, an arena that has hosted some memorable cricket matches in the past, including the final of the ICC CWC 2003, the inaugural ICC World Twenty20 2007, the IPL2, CLT20 2010 and the unforgettable '438' ODI between South Africa and Australia in 2006.

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Champions League T20: Best XI

This year's Champions League has been the finest so far by a country mile. The glamorous tournament captivated cricket fanatics with nail-biting finishes. Lightning struck twice, first in the form of Mumbai and then Bangalore to set up an all IPL grand finale. Eventually, the rag-tag, resilient Mumbai Indians prevailed on the night of nerves to be crowned the Champion of Champions. Here's a look at our CLT20 All Star Eleven.

Best XI: Chris Gayle, David Warner, Virat Kohli, James Franklin, Craig Kieswetter (wk), Dwayne Bravo, Kevon Cooper, Harbhajan Singh (captain), Lasith Malinga, Sunil Narine, Ravi Rampaul.

Chris Gayle(RCB): The Man of the tournament of IPL 2011, continued his rich vein of form to run amok in the CLT20. The Jamaican's blitzkriegs were instrumental in RCB making it to the final. Gayle's 92 off 41 balls in the first semi--final was the spectacle of the tournament although the big man floundered in the final. A whooping 24 maximums catapulted him to first in the list of leading six-hitters.

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Mumbai down haphazard Bangalore to win Champions League T20

harbhajan_iplThe underdog Mumbai Indians, who struggled to field a fit eleven when the lucrative tournament began, tamed the top dogs Royal Challengers Bangalore to clinch the 2011 Champions League T20 crown by 31 runs and with it a jackpot of $2.5 million. Mumbai's slower bowlers led by their charismatic captain Harbhajan Singh stifled the RCB batsmen who lacked the application to graft on a tricky track at Chepauk. Eventually the Men in Red were bundled out for a disappointing 108 in their chase of 140 to win .The 'Golden wicket taker' Malinga got the better of Dilshan in the final over of his extended first spell and the spinners cashed in to trigger a collapse. Earlier in the evening, Mumbai batted first and stitched together 139 with James Franklin (41) being the substantial contributor.

As the curtains came down on Cricket's magnum opus - the Champions League T20, the Mumbai Indians locked horns with the Royal Challengers Bangalore amidst an electrifying atmosphere at the M.A.Chidambaram stadium, Chennai in an all IPL finale. Expectedly, both teams remained glued to their winning combinations from the semis. Cricket experts were of the unanimous opinion that the summit clash would boil down to RCB's top three vs Lasith Malinga. Mumbai, who lead Bangalore 6-4 on head to head won the toss and chose to put runs on board on a slow, two-paced pitch.

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Mercurial Mumbai squeeze past Somerset into Champions League Final

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.

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Gayle, Kohli defy the odds as RCB advance to CLT20 Final

brc3The Men in Red stole the thunder from the Thunder from Down Under to clinch the first Champions League T20 semi-final by 6 wickets with an incredible 9 balls to spare. RCB, who chased down 200 twice in consecutive matches rode on Chris Gayle's 91 and Man of the match Virat Kohli's unbeaten 84 to down the New South Wales Blues. Earlier in the evening, David Warner scored another superlative ton turbo-charged with power to lead NSW to an excellent 203-2. The fans in Bangalore got more than their monies worth having experienced special knocks from Gayle and Warner. The Royal Challengers Bangalore now await the winner of the second semi-final which takes place in Chennai tomorrow night between the Mumbai Indians and the Somerset Sabres.

The highly-anticipated 1st semi-final of the CLT20 witnessed the IPL juggernauts, Royal Challengers Bangalore, fresh off a pulsating last ball win go head to head against the former champions the New South Wales Blues on a fine batting track at the M.Chinnaswamy stadium infront of a clamorous crowd. NSW stuck to their winning combination while RCB made one change with Mohammad Kaif coming in for the injured Syed Mohammad .The toss of the coin went Vettori's way who decided to bowl first. The Bangalore skipper reckoned that the dew factor would aid the Men in Red later in the chase.

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Arun Karthik hits last ball for 6 to propel RCB into CLT20 Semi-finals

partnershipA Knock out game between the Royal Challengers and South Australia in Bengaluru saw the home side chase down an incredible 215 set for victory on the back of a last ball six from wicketkeeper batsman Arun Karthik amidst an electrifying atmosphere at the Chinnaswamy Stadium. Despite having a centurion in the form of Daniel Harris (108) and a 5 wicket haul from speed merchant Shaun Tait (5/32), the South Australian Redbacks were knocked out of the CL T20 in a game that saw a massive 429 runs being scored in 40 action packed overs that included 42 fours and 20 sixes! The Redbacks after choosing to bat earlier in the night, put up a mammoth 214/2 in their innings with the help of a fine 114 run stand between Daniel Harris an Callum Ferguson. Even that score was not enough on the night as Bangalore, looked well in control of the chase till the 18th over after which imploded dramatically before finally scraping through by virtue of a last ball six. Virat Kohli's 70 off 36 and Tillakaratne Dilshan's 74 off 47 were invaluable contributions in this epic chase.

With the last semi final slot up for grabs for the team that won this fixture, the Royal Challengers Bangalore and the South Australian Redbacks took to the Chinnaswamy stadium in Bengaluru on Wednesday night.  The Redbacks skipper, Micheal Klinger, won the toss on a slowish wicket and chose to bat first. The Redbacks decided to bring back their express pacer Shaun Tait for this all important game at the expense of fellow seamer Gary Putland while the Royal Challengers chose to go in with the same combination that won them the last match against Somerset.

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Somerset advance to CLT20 Semis as Warriors head home

somerset2The Chevrolet Warriors on Wednesday completed a disappointing couple of days for the two South African franchises in the Champions League T20 when they joined the Cape Cobras on an early flight home from India. The Warriors were shown the door by English powerhouse Somerset Sabres in a match that was a lot closer than the 12 run margin suggests. The Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras suffered the same fate on Tuesday when they were defeated in their final Group A match by Trinidad & Tobago.

Ironically it was the two South Africans in the Somerset side that shone brightest today with Captain Alfonso Thomas leading by example with excellent match figures of 2-16 from his four overs, including a superb second spell which saw him pick up 2 wickets for 2 runs in the penultimate over of the match. All rounder Roelof van der Merwe was the other star for the Sabres as he smashed a whirlwind 32 from just 16 balls, dominating his second wicket partnership with Craig Kieswetter, who top scored with an unbeaten 56 from 52 balls.

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