RAIPUR

The match had begun in overcast conditions. Lahore Lions were not able to enlist their help and were helpless witnesses to what could have happened - Tim Southee and Trent Boult had the ball zipping around to have Lions 19 for 5 chasing 171. The rest was simply a blur of pink as Northern Knights hurtled to a crushing 72-run victory.

Daniel Flynn, their captain, knew he had a new-ball attack that could dissect Test sides and his half-century coupled with BJ Watling’s provided what ended up being a giant run-rate boost that primes them to make the main draw. Their only roadblock on the day was Saad Nasim, who willed Lions towards some sense of dignity with a fifty of his own. He was the only man to reach double-figures, while his team was all out for 98, the sixth-lowest total in T20 cricket.

The slide began with a menacing yorker from Southee, one that swung in late, sneaked under Nasir Jamshed’s plod and topple his stumps. Boult ensured he wasn’t left behind by setting up the other opener Ahmed Shehzad. Doubts were sowed when an inswinger had the batsman playing around his pads. The next ball was angled across, Shehzad’s muddled footwork and feeble prod was safely pouched by the keeper. A contest was brewing, although it was limited to the two quicks.

Southee surged ahead by bouncing M Hafeez and had a little luck in undoing Umar Siddiq’s promotion. Boult hit back with a rousing inswinger that rattled Akmal’s stumps to bring the seamers’ skirmish even.

By this time Lions -who were five down - were so far behind the game that Southee and Boult’s game of one-upmanship was the only thing that caught the crowd’s attention.

The winner was declared in rather emphatic fashion, if again with a little bit of luck. Asif Raza slogged to deep midwicket, a curious decision considering the impact of run-rates. An immense amount of hang-time later it came down on the edge of the midwicket boundary where Southee extended his arms into the air-space beyond the advertising skirting and caught the ball. Realising the momentum was tipping him over, Southee tossed the ball to Daryl Mitchell who had been tracking it from deep square leg to complete a spectacular relay catch.

The third umpire was called in, as is routine for such catches, and spent several minutes deciding if Southee had trod on the rope, and it seemed that he had, but CK Nandan thought otherwise. Boult had to settle for toppling the final wicket through a smart run-out to give the Lions chase a fitting end.

Earlier, half-centuries from Daniel Flynn and BJ Watling took Northern Knights to 170 for 6 after Lions skipper Hafeez invited them in to bat on Sunday. Despite a shaky start that saw the Knights lose both their openers early, Flynn (53, 30b, 5x4, 1x6) and Watling (53, 37b, 7x4, 1x6) combined for 90-run fourth-wicket stand to take them to a competitive score.

Kane Williamson, star of the Knights’ opening win with a quickfire half-century, was out inside the batting Powerplay, after Asif Raza had removed captain Anton Devcich in the third over of the innings. Hafeez accounted for Daniel Harris for 20, but Flynn and Watling ensured no further damage for the next 10 overs, before Aizaz Cheema’s (3 for 35) late burst kept the Knights in check.

Both teams came in unchanged for their second match of the Champions League T20 qualifiers. New Zealand’s Nothern Knights emerged seven-wicket victors over Sri Lanka’s Southern Express in a 10-over game on Saturday, thanks to a rapid half-century from Kane Williamson. The Lions, on the other hand, beat Mumbai Indians by six wickets after restricting the defending champions to 135 for 7, and chased it down with eight balls to spare.

Scoreboard

NORTHERN DISTRICTS:

A Devcich c Wahab b Asif    9

K Williamson c Umar b Aizaz    14

D Harris c & b Hafeez    20

D Flynn st Umar b Adnan    53

B Watling c Shehzad b Aizaz    53

S Styris c Shehzad b Aizaz    14

D Mitchell not out    1

S Kuggeleijn not out    2

EXTRAS: (lb2, w2)    4

TOTAL: (6 wkts; 20 overs)    170

FOW: 1-15, 2-36, 3-60, 4-150, 5-167, 6-167 

BOWLINGL: Asif Raza 3-0-14-1, M Hafeez-4-0-35-1, Aizaz Cheema 4-0-35-3, Adnan Rasool 3-0-29-1, Wahab Riaz 4-0-33-0, Imran Ali 2-0-22-0

LAHORE LIONS:

Nasir Jamshed b Southee    5

Ahmed Shehzad c Watling b Boult    2

M Hafeez c Watling b Southee    5

Umar Siddiq lbw b Southee    3

Umar Akmal b Boult    1

Saad Nasim run out    58

Asif Raza c Mitchell b Styris    5

Wahab Riaz lbw b Sodhi    2

Imran Ali c Williamson b Sodhi    8

Adnan Rasool run out    4

Aizaz Cheema not out    2

EXTRAS: (lb , w2)    3

TOTAL: (all out; 18 overs)    98

FOW: 1-5, 2-12, 3-16, 4-17, 5-19, 6-34, 7-37, 8-67, 9-80, 10-98

BOWLING: T Boult 4-0-12-2, T Southee 4-0-22-3, S Kuggeleijn 3-1-13-0, S Styris 3-0-20-1, I Sodhi 4-0-30-2

TOSS: Lahore Lions

UMPIRES: A Chaudhary, V Kulkarni

TV UMPIRE: C Nandan

MATCH REFEREE: Chinmay Sharma