Indian Premier League teams flexed their muscles during the first weekend of the Champions League Twenty20 tournament in South Africa with Chennai Super Kings and Royal Challengers Bangalore recording emphatic victories.
Chennai defeated New Zealand’s Central Stags by 57 runs in Durban on Saturday while Bangalore crushed West Indian champions Guyana by nine wickets in Centurion on Sunday.
The tournament features teams from six countries but after the first five matches it seemed the major challenges for the lucrative title would come from India, South Africa or Australia.
South Africa’s Highveld Lions and Warriors recorded the first two wins but the Lions suffered a loss in their second match when they went down by 11 runs against South Australia Redbacks in the first game of a SuperSport Park double-header on Sunday.
A second Australian team, Victoria Bushrangers, are the only side not to have been in action. They were due to open their campaign against the Warriors in Port Elizabeth yesterday.
South African all-rounder Jacques Kallis was the star of Bangalore’s comprehensive win. He took three for 16 and made an unbeaten 43 as Bangalore chased down a disappointing Guyana total of 103 all out.
Bangalore coach Ray Jennings said his team came into the tournament in confident mood on the back of six days of match practice against local players at Pretoria University.
“We had fantastic preparation,” said Kallis, who benefited from a two-month break from cricket.
“It’s nice to recharge the batteries and I’m looking forward to a nice long season, obviously an important season ending with the World Cup,” he said.
Bangalore captain Anil Kumble praised his team’s bowlers for what he described as “a wonderful performance.”
Earlier, the Redbacks made a slow start against the Lions, scoring only 65 for two at the halfway point of their innings. However, captain Michael Klinger and Callum Ferguson hammered 97 in a third-wicket partnership off only 58 balls as the Australians reached 178 for six.
Klinger hit 78 off 48 balls and Ferguson made 47. Despite a fine innings of 56 off 35 balls by captain Alviro Petersen, the Lions lost wickets at regular intervals and the pace of Shaun Tait in the closing overs proved too much for the South African team, who finished with 167 for eight. Tait took three for 36.
“In a cut-throat competition like the Champions League it’s fantastic to make a winning start, but we have a tough road ahead with matches in Durban against Mumbai and Bangalore,” Klinger said.
Mumbai Indians suffered a shock loss against the Lions in the tournament’s opening match in Johannesburg on Friday but are still expected to be strong contenders to be one of the two teams from Group B to qualify for the semi-finals.
The tournament is contested by 10 teams split into two groups with the top two from each going through to the knock-out phase.