Ballance blitz not enough for Yorkshire
Yorkshire ended their Champions League T20 campaign on a losing note, despite an impressive display from Gary Ballance against Chennai Super Kings in Durban.
The powerful Ballance cracked 58 from just 38 deliveries to lift the White Rose to 140 for six following another below-par showing from their top order.
However, on an easy-paced pitch, that target proved well within the reach of Chennai, who completed a four-wicket triumph with an over unused. Subramaniam Badrinath contributed 47, while India stars Suresh Raina and Mahendra Singh Dhoni made 31 apiece, the latter falling with one required.
Yorkshire therefore end the group stage without a victory to their name, having reached the tournament proper with qualifying phase wins over Uva Next and Trinidad & Tobago.
Andrew Gale and Adam Lyth, promoted in the absence of the injured Phil Jaques, started confidently after Chennai had chosen to field, with the former striking two sixes.
However, the openers each skied to mid-off in successive overs and Joe Root was caught down the leg side off Albie Morkel as Yorkshire’s innings lost momentum.
Ballance and David Miller did their best to regain the initiative; after eschewing risk early on, they each collected maximums in Ravindra Jadeja’s first set of six.
An increasingly assured Ballance continued to prosper when the part-time medium-pace of Dhoni was introduced and cleared the ropes for a fifth and sixth time after Miller had been caught at cover for 28.
Ballance was finally run out attempting to steal a bye in the final over, which ended with Dan Hodgson falling for one.
Chennai saw Francois du Plessis and Murali Vijay depart cheaply in reply as Yorkshire’s inexperienced pace trio of Steven Patterson, Iain Wardlaw and Oliver Hannon-Dalby operated with discipline.
Yet runs flowed freely against the spin of Adil Rashid and Azeem Rafiq, putting the Indian Premier League outfit firmly on track.
Hannon-Dalby had Raina caught at deep point with 74 on the board, while Badrinath was bowled round his legs by Wardlaw in the 17th over.
Jadeja and Dhoni also gave their wickets away, but by that stage the result was not in doubt, with the latter having thumped two enormous sixes in a typically forceful knock.
In the day’s second game, at the same venue, Sydney Sixers made it four Group B wins from four with a 12-run victory over last year’s champions Mumbai Indians, who were winless this time. Sydney had progressed to the semi-finals along with Lions before today’s matches.
The Sixers missed star all-rounder Shane Watson, who has been rested for the remainder of the competition by Cricket Australia, in posting a modest 136 for seven after winning the toss. Watson’s fellow Australia international Steven Smith top-scored a run-a-ball 41 while Munaf Patel impressed with 2-17 from four overs.
In reply, opening batsmen Dwayne Smith and Sachin Tendulkar added 52 before both fell in the ninth over to Moises Henriques, and Pat Cummins’ 2-16 from four helped to limit Mumbai to 124 for eight.
Lions will play in Thursday’s semi-final at Durban and Sydney in Friday’s at Centurion. They will know their opponents after tomorrow’s Group A games.