Friday, October 23, 2009

Lee stars in NSW's title triumph

A compelling performance from Brett Lee, with bat and ball, spurred New South Wales to the Champions League Twenty20 title in the final against Trinidad & Tobago in Hyderabad. Lee scored 48 to lift NSW from 83 for 6 to a competitive 159. He then returned for a fiery spell with the new ball, taking 2 for 10 off two overs, before symbolically ending the T&T challenging by catching the fearsome Kieron Pollard on the boundary. NSW also had another, if less prominent, performer in young legspinner Steven Smith. He partnered Lee during a 49-run partnership, scoring 33, and picked up two crucial wickets with his legbreaks.

20 overs New South Wales 159 for 9 (Lee 48, Rampaul 3-20) v Trinidad & Tobago

The question at the start of the battle for the biggest cash prize in a cricket tournament ever was that who will handle the pressure of the final better? Trinidad & Tobago came out on the top initially, reducing New South Wales to 83 for 6, but Brett Lee played a superb hand to propel NSW to a competitive 159 in Hyderabad.

Lee is a clean hitter but his innings wasn't a blind counterattack in the traditional sense of the word. He started slowly, reaching 7 off 13 deliveries, before he broke free in the 16th over against Lendl Simmons. The first delivery, a full toss, was swung over square-leg for a six, the fourth delivery was a clean hit over long-on, and the last one was carved to the cover boundary. Time and again, Lee cleared the front leg and swung cleanly through the line. Navin Stewart disappeared over long-on and Sherwin Ganga was heaved over midwicket as Lee powered NSW to a good total. Lee got support from Steven Smith, who did what was required perfectly: give the strike to Lee, and try to pinch the occasional boundary to soak up the pressure.

Until Lee delivered his counter punch, though, it was T&T all the way. Simon Katich wanted to bat and Daren Ganga wanted to bowl and both teams got what they wanted out of the toss. The question then was, considering T&T's ability to chase down big scores, would the pressure to set up a daunting target tell on NSW? The answer played out during the next twenty overs.

If NSW were to get to a huge total, the two hard-hitting openers had to contribute heavily but that didn't happen. T&T started with the spin-seam combination and Sherwin Ganga, the offspinner, bowled three overs in the Powerplay. The third ball of the game perhaps indicated which team was suffering more from the yips. Warner opted to play a weak reverse sweep and nearly edged it back to the bowler. Warner did go on to thread a couple of boundaries on the off side but never looked in. Meanwhile the pressure told on his partner Phillip Hughes, who faced three balls in the first three overs, and fell, trying to slog-pull the impressive Ravi Rampaul.

While Sherwin Ganga was miserly, it was Rampaul who really shone with a fine display of canny seam bowling. He hit a full length, got the ball to cut both ways and built pressure. One moment captured his combative spirit perfectly: When Warner tried to impose himself with a crashing cover-drive, Rampaul fired in a sharp 140 kmph bouncer that flew past the startled batsman.

The chance for NSW to break free came in the fifth over bowled by Dwayne Bravo, who had leaked runs in the semi-final. Katich started off with a bottom-hand powered six over long-on but Warner fell in the same over, edging one to right of backward point where Dave Mohammed took a fine catch.

What followed was a nervy phase for NSW as one batsman after another fell to soft dismissals. Katich punched Bravo straight to mid-off, Moises Henriques swung a short delivery to fine-leg, Ben Rohrer pulled a long hop straight to deep midwicket, and Daniel Smith chopped a length delivery back on to his stumps. But Lee and Smith saved the day with some sensible batting and pushed NSW to a competitive score.


Post a Comment