Warner century puts Blues in semis

CHENNAI, India, CMC-IANS – Diminutive opener David Warner’s 69-ball 136 not out floored previous champions Chennai Super Kings while powering the New South Wales into the semi-finals of the Champions League Twenty20 yesterday here.

Warner’s amazing innings that contained eight sixes and 11 fours, helped the 2009 champions Blues to 201 for two.

The Super Kings made a spirited bid, but the pressure of having to win by a big margin told on the side that eventually capitulated to 155 all out with left-arm spinner Stephen O’Keefe taking three for 28.

The Blues topped Group-A with six points and along with Mumbai Indians, on five points, qualified for the semi-finals, leaving Trinidad & Tobago, who earlier beat Cape Cobras of South Africa by two wickets, heart-broken on four points.

The South Africans finished with three points and the Super Kings ended at the bottom with two.

It was undoubtedly a Warner show on a pitch on which batting was a task until the “pocket dynamo” capitalised on a life when on 40 and launched into a save attack that spared no bowler.
Clearly, Warner was in the zone as he played shots at will, notably the switch hits.

Fast bowler Doug Bollinger, who had opted for Super Kings rather than his home team Blues, was taken to the cleaners. He conceded 48 runs in three overs.

The Super Kings response was as fiery with openers Michael Hussey and Murali Vijay indulging in hectic hitting, but then, the pressure was constant, and it eventually told on the batsmen.

Hussey was unfortunate to be adjudged lbw to Stuart Clark and then O’Keefe dismissed Vijay and Suresh Raina, all scoring briskly, but getting out attempting to step up the scoring.

CSK captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni followed his mates into the dug-out in the 11th over and it was all over bar the shouting as the Super Kings fell to 88 for four.

Thereafter, it was a regular procession and the Super Kings innings came apart in sharp contrast to the Blues’ innings.

Warner and Shane Watson, with 21, started at a gallop, scoring freely as Bollinger went for 13 runs in his first over.

Both batsmen took their chances with Warner coming up with a couple of audacious switch-hits to the ropes.

The 50 came up at the end of the fifth over and the Blues seemed to be well on their way to a big total.

Ravichandran Ashwin struck in the seventh over however, as Watson top-edged to Dhoni, playing across the line and the Super Kings heaved a sigh of relief.
But then, Warner, with Steven Smith as his partner, jammed his foot down hard on the pedal and runs continued to flow.

The little left-hander was lucky to be dropped when Shadab Jakati misjudged a catch at third man off Bravo.

Dhoni wrung the bowling changes, but to no effect as Warner and Steven Smith carried on without undue problems as they added 50 in just 37 deliveries.
In a desperate move, Bollinger was brought back in for the 13th over, but again he leaked 13 with Warner smashing a six and a boundary.

The 15th over, bowled by left-arm spinner Jakati, brought the Blues another 15 followed by 13 off the next by Raina as the Blues touched 134 for one after 15.

The 100 partnership was raised in just 61 balls before Smith was brilliantly caught in the deep by Wriddhiman Saha off Nuwan Kulasekara who was brought in for an injured Albie Morkel. Soon, Warner notched his second Champions League century off just 58 deliveries.
Warner celebrated his century in style with two sixes and a switch-hit four on the back of new man Moises Henriques’ six as Bravo went for 24 runs in the 19th over.

Warner then completed the demolition of Super Kings attack by blasting Bollinger for 20 runs, including a massive six that sent the ball onto the roof of the grandstand and the Blues posted a daunting total.

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