The Champions League Twenty20 tournament got off to a thrilling and surprise start on Friday with local outfit Highveld Lions of South Africa defeating star-studded Mumbai Indians by nine runs.
Chasing 187 for victory after Jonathan Vandiar had topped scored for the Lions with 71, Mumbai looked good for a long time as openers Sachin Tendulkar and Shikhar Dhawan scored briskly only to fall away at the end.
“We were looking for around 180 runs and it was a good wicket to bat on once you played yourself in. The Lions may be underdogs but we believe in ourselves,” boasted official man-of-the-match Vandiar.
Mumbai skipper Tendulkar offered no excuses: “The Lions batted well and we lost wickets at crucial moments. Our bowling and fielding was rusty and we need to pull up our socks quickly.”
After South African President Jacob Zumba tossed the coin, Mumbai correctly called “heads” and Spanish megastar Enrique Iglesias had sang the theme song “I like it”, the Lions made an impressive 186/5 off 20 overs.
Opener Vandiar led the way at one of the most famous world cricket venues with his runs coming off 48 balls as he mixed aggression and patience in a knock that included three sixes and four fours.
It took two household cricket names to terminate his clever stand with Tendulkar catching a half-volley off the bowling of Sri Lankan Lasith Malinga 16.3 overs into the innings.
Neil McKenzie was the other Lion to roar before a near-full crowd in the 30,000-seat stadium, coming in at number five and finishing unbeaten on 56 off 30 balls with seven fours and a six to lift a sagging innings.
Having cruised to 83 without loss, Mumbai surrendered two wickets while adding just six to their total midway through the innings as opener Shikhar Dhawan exited after amassing 32 and Ambati Rayudu was run out for three.
Tendulkar finally fell after 14.3 overs having scored 69 as he drifted to the leg side only to be clean bowled as Shane Burger sent the stumps flying amid much relief among his team-mates.
Anil Kumble-skippered Royal Challengers Bangalore of India, South Australia Redbacks led by Cullen Bailey and Ramnaresh Sarwan-captained Guyana from the West Indies complete the group with the top two qualifying for the semifinals.