Hyderabad Heroes survived a scare before scraping through a three-wicket victory over Royal Bengal Tigers in an edge-of-the-seat semi-final in the ICL 20-20 championship played at the Sardar Patel Stadium in Ahmedabad on Tuesday night.
Chasing a target of 162 runs to win, Heroes overcame some jitters to reach the target with three balls to spare and set up a summit clash with the Lahore Badshahs.
Heroes openers Jimmy Maher (14 off 15 balls) and Ibrahim Khaleel (32 off 20 balls) made a good start scoring 44 runs in 5.5 overs but Klusener struck twice in the sixth over, reducing the Heroes to 48 for two in 5.4 overs.
The first to go was Maher, who looking to play a lofty shot, completely mistimed it as Sri Lankan all-rounder Upul Chandana caught him at mid-on. One ball later, Klusener struck again when his slower delivery bamboozled Khaleel and kissed the bails off while the opener was trying to paddle him away for a four.
Ambati Rayudu (14 off 16 balls) and Abdul Razzaq (26 off 18 balls) then joined hands and tried to steady the ship, stitching a 32-ball 40 run partnership, with the help of one four and three sixes. But disaster struck again when both of them were sent back to the hut within a span of three deliveries between the 11th and 12th over to leave the Heroes tottering at 89 for four in 11.2 overs.
Rayudu was done in by a Shiv Sagar Singh delivery when he came down the track only to see the bails being whipped away by keeper Deep Dasgupta. Razzaq also had a similar ending when he tried to do a Rayudu off a Chandana delivery, only to be left groping out of the crease as Dasgupta picked up his second stumping of the day.
With the required run-rate pilling up, Nicky Boje (11 off 11 balls) and Justin Kemp (8 off 10 balls) tried to up the tempo but without much success as all hopes rested on Stuart Binny to bid for an impossible.
Binny responded well, hitting some lusty blows to bring down the run-rate before he was caught by Dasgupta off a Eklak Ahmid delivery. He scored 45 runs off 26 balls, studded with two fours and as many sixes.
With six runs needed in the last over, Syed Shahabuddin (1) joined skipper Chris Harris (5 off 2 balls) in the middle as the duo kept their cool and took their team to victory with a four, which came off the blade of Harris, with three balls to spare.
Earlier invited to bat first, the Tigers were gasping for breath when they were reduced to seven for two after two overs but Lance Klusener and Rohan Gavaskar came to the party and stitched together the highest partnership of the tournament i,e a 145-run fourth wicket stand to help Royal Bengal Tigers post a respectable total of 161 for four in the allotted 20 overs.
The Tigers received a rude jolt in the second over when opener Deep Dasgupta (1) failed to negotiate a slower delivery of Syed Sahabuddin and hit it straight into the bowlers' hands. One ball later, Tigers highest run-getter Hamish Marshall was also sent packing by a brilliant Ambati Rayudu fielding after the opener had a terrible mix up with teammate Klusener.
Two overs later, disaster struck again when skipper Craig McMillian (1) pulled a Razzaq delivery only to see the top-edge fly into the safe hands of Chris Harris at covers to leave the team tottering at 10 for three.
Newman Rohan Gavaskar and Klusener then tried to consolidate the innings and brought up the fifty in the 10th over. After a cautious start, Gavaskar scored the first boundary for the Tigers in the sixth over, when he slammed a Sahabuddin delivery over the point fielders head.
Klusener and Gavaskar combined good running with some lusty hitting and brought the Tigers back into the game with a 145-run partnership. The 37-year-old South African was more aggressive in the beginning as he clobbered the bowlers all over the park and brought up the hundred in the 15th over en route his half century with a huge six over long on off a Stuart Binny delivery.
Gavaskar also stepped up the gas soon, sending the bowlers for a leather hunt, en route to his innings of 74 off 47 balls which included six hits to the fence and four huge sixes. He perished in the last over of the innings, when looking for a six he was caught by Indra Shekhar Reddy at long off. With just one ball to go, Klusener whacked it over the extra cover for a six to end the innings in style.