All-round Lee guides NSW to title triumph
by Jinu Sabastian

Ground:Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, Uppal, Hyderabad
Scorecard:New South Wales v Trinidad and Tobago
Player:KA Pollard, B Lee
Event:Champions League 2009/10

DateLine: 23rd October 2009


New South Wales on the back of Brett Lee's all-round performance swept aside T&T to claim Champions League 2009. It was the question of who will handle the pressure better in the big final and NSW proved that they were a notch better than T&T. Brett Lee did the job with the bat, got the initial wickets and drove the final nail in the T&T coffin when his catch ended dangerous Pollard's stay in the crease.


Ganga did not think twice as he elected to field first after winning the toss believing that his team could chase down any target set by NSW. Ganga opened with his off-spinner Sherwin Ganga and he did an excellent job first up by keeping Warner and Hughes quiet. Rampaul shared the new ball with Ganga and he did not disappoint his captain as he too stuck to the job asked of him. Warner got some impetus into the innings by getting boundaries to try and force T&T to go on the defensive as Ganga had employed an ultra-attacking field. Hughes trying to catch up with Warner tried to pull a ball not short enough and found his middle stump pegged back. Bravo delivered a mixed over next up in which he claimed the wicket of the dangerous Warner but was carted twice beyond the boundary ropes by Katich.


Bravo struck again when Katich who was middling the ball well spooned an easy catch to Barath at mid-off. NSW continued to slip as Henriques swung a long-hop from Pollard straight to Sherwin Ganga at deep square leg and NSW was reeling at 47 for 4 in 7.2 overs. The task of resurrecting the innings fell on the duo of Rohrer and Steve Smith and the former did not disappoint. Rohrer lifted Bravo over fine leg for a six and then found the fence to put some momentum back into the innings but Dave Mohammed had other ideas. Rohrer got a short ball from Mohammed which he pulled powerfully over midwicket but the force of the shot forced his bottom hand to come of the bat handle and the ball merely lobbed to Sherwin Ganga patrolling the boundary ropes. The innings slipped further when Daniel Smith was cleaned up an off-cutter from Rampaul which seamed in a long way and the scorecard showed 83 for 6 in 11.2 overs.


That brought together Smith and Lee together with an onerous task of breathing new life into the innings. The pair first took stock of the situation as they calmed the frayed nerves in the dug out by pinching the singles to keep the scorecard moving. By the 15th over the pair began to open up as Smith lifted Mohammed straight over his head and Lee took this as his cue to attack and he teed off. Simmons bowled the 16th over and that cost 18 runs. The first delivery, a full toss, was swung over square-leg for a six, the fourth delivery deposited over long-on, and the last one was carved to cover boundary as Lee went berserk. Lee continued to clear the boundary ropes with ease as Navin Stewart disappeared over long-on and Sherwin Ganga was heaved over midwicket. Lee finished with a flourish and when he was finally dismissed for 48 he had led NSW to a formidable total of 159.


Lee continued his good match as he cleaned up an advancing Perkins with a fast and fuller length delivery for a duck. Katich summoned the services of leg-spinner Steven Smith in the second over and Barath sensing an opportunity to score some quick runs threw his bat around. He found the cover fence twice before lifting the leg-spinner over long-on for a six. But unfortunately for T&T, Barath edged one through to the keeper and T&T slipped to 21 for 2 in two overs. Lee continued to put NSW on top as he picked up a stunning return catch off Simmons to apply pressure on T&T. But the West Indian side did not let the fall of wickets dampen their approach as Bravo collected the boundaries to keep T&T at par with the required run-rate.


Bravo got a couple of boundaries and even lifted Bollinger over long-on for a massive six but the bowler struck back when he forced Bravo to inside one onto his stumps and T&T slipped further. Skipper Ganga was joined in the middle by Ramdin and the two tried to keep abreast with the creeping run-rate. Their task was made the more difficult as Hauritz and Clark stifled the batsmen with some tight bowling. Ganga tried to break free by lifting Smith over mid-on but the bowler had the last laugh when Ganga slapped a short and wide ball straight to Warner at point. Pollard who had destroyed NSW in their previous encounter survived a couple of anxious moments when he survived a run-out and a vociferous shout for leg-before off leg-spinner Smith. Pollard displayed his hitting prowess as he packed off Bollinger over square-leg for a huge six.


Clark was brought back to get a breakthrough and he did just that as he was able to prise out Ramdin who played straight to Smith at short third-man. With the wickets tumbling Pollard decided to throw caution to the winds as Hauritz found himself clobbered twice in the same over beyond the boundary ropes and T&T innings began to gather momentum. But Hauritz neutralised the blows by claiming the wickets off Sherwin Ganga and the dangerous Pollard in the same over to end the hopes of the Caribbean side. Clark then officially brought down the curtains on the first edition of the Champions League when he dismissed Stewart and Mohammed to ensure that the victory trumpets blew in favour of the Blues.


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