Somerset charge to last-ball victory
NEW DELHI: THREE years after leaving a Test tour of India in tears, Marcus Trescothick made the journey back. It was worth it, too, with the Somerset Sabres taking a big step towards the final stages of the Champions League with a last-ball victory in Hyderabad against the Deccan Chargers, the Indian Premier League (IPL) champions.
Trescothick contributed 14 runs and took two catches, but Alfonso Thomas (30 from 17 balls) and James Hildreth (25 from 24 balls) were the heroes with a 50-run stand for the eighth wicket. Although Scott Styris took two wickets in the final over, the South African-born Thomas slugged two fours through point to clinch the game.
Somerset had started well before losing their way against RP Singh and the slow bowlers. Having bunted a short ball over slip, Trescothick, inset, gave a glimpse of what England have missed with a fluent cover drive when Fidel Edwards pitched one up. And after four tidy deliveries from Singh, an errant one was guided over point.
But just as the crowd ó who had never seen the Chargers win a home game ó were being bullied into silence, Trescothick top-edged a pull. When the ball came down, Adam Gilchrist was under it.
The Chargers made 86 for three in their first 10 overs, with VVS Laxman sacrificing the rapier for the bludgeon on his way to 46 (35 balls), but clever changes of pace and cutters from Peter Trego stymied their progress.
With Symonds going cheaply and Laxman unable to carry on, the top-heavy line-up suffered in the second half of the innings. Cameos from Rohit Sharma and Venugopal Rao took the score to 153, but on a hard and true pitch, it didnít seem enough.
The competition had the perfect start with a down-to-the-wire encounter in Bangalore that was watched by a capacity crowd, but the turnout for subsequent games should trigger a few alarms. There were plenty of people to watch the Delhi Daredevils and the Chargers at their home venues, but also swathes of empty seats, especially for the games not involving Indian sides. With the Diwali holidays about to start, organisers will hope that there are plenty more posteriors on seats in the second week.
The Indian cricket board, which has a stake in the competition, along with Cricket Australia and Cricket South Africa, also shot itself in the foot by scheduling its own 50-over Challenger Trophy in Nagpur at the same time.
And while MS Dhoni, Harbhajan Singh and other stalwarts of the India side have played in front of empty stands, the fan watching on TV has faced a tough choice between his favourites and the glitz of the Champions League.
The presence of every high- profile Indian cricketer was one of the main reasons behind the IPLís spectacular success. If the Champions League is struggling to create the same impact, it has a lot to do with the absence of Dhoni, Sachin Tendulkar and Yuvraj Singh.
The Cape Cobras were the first team into the next round with an emphatic 54-run win over the Otago Volts.
Despite a sterling opening spell from Dimitri Mascarenhas, Andrew Puttick (104 not out from 62 balls), aided by cameos from JP Duminy (32 from 25 balls) and Justin Ontong (37 from 14 balls), took them to 193 for four. With Rory Kleinveldt taking three for 24 and Henry Davids responsible for a stunning catch and two run-outs, the Volts fell well short.