The Mumbai Indians pulled a few rabbits out of the hat to sneak into fourth place and the playoffs of IPL 2014 – a position which gave them an opportunity to defend their Champions League T20 title.
However, when another couple of rabbits were needed on Tuesday night to qualify for the main draw of the CLT20 2014, all that came out from the hat was thin air, with the Northern Knights and the Lahore Lions advancing to the main event in style.
Needing a win to go through to the main draw of the tournament they won last year, the Mumbai Indians batsmen pushed the self-destruct button, collapsing in a heap to 46 for five, before some decent repair work from skipper Kieron Pollard (31, 24b, 2x4, 1x6) and tail-enders Shreyas Gopal (24, 12b, 2x4, 1x6) and Lasith Malinga (20, 8b, 3x4, 1x6) at least got them to 132 for nine in their 20 overs.
The way the Northern Knights have been batting, there was no way the Mumbai Indians were going to be able to restrict the New Zealanders, as the team in pink, led by Kane Williamson (53, 36b, 7x4, 1x6) and Anton Devcich (39, 34b, 4x4, 1x6), eased to the target with 2.4 overs and six wickets to spare.
The loss means the Mumbai Indians are out of the CLT20 2014 – their defence of the title ending with barely a whimper, while the Northern Knights and the Lahore Lions will now look to rub shoulders with the biggies as the proper tournament begins come Wednesday.
In the first game of the day, the Lahore Lions did their job pretty well, posting a convincing win over the Southern Express, who left CLT20 2014 without a single win.
The only thing the Lahore Lions, considering how far behind in the net run rate they were from the Mumbai Indians, could do was win their final qualifier, and they did just that, with the batsmen posting a decent total of 164 for six in 20 overs.
That total was achieved thanks largely to their skipper Mohammed Hafeez, who struck a brilliant 67 (40b, 5x4, 4x6), catching fire towards the final five overs of the innings after a circumspect beginning.
At 53 for three in the eighth over, the Lahore Lions were not in the greatest of positions, but all that changed once Hafeez and Saad Nasim (31, 25b, 3x4) came together, with the duo putting on 75 runs together in 54 balls.
The Lahore Lions scored a massive 75 runs in the final five overs of their batting innings, and that broke the back of Southern Express, who just could not respond in kind with the bat.
The reply was tame and timid, much like their performances throughout the tournament, with the Sri Lankan side unable to gather any kind of momentum.
If they were to post a win – and Southern Express needed an absolutely massive, near impossible, win to overhaul Mumbai Indians' run rate – Kusal Perera needed to fire at the top, but once the left-hander fell to Aizaz Cheema (3-0-15-3) in the fourth over, the match was as good as done.
Southern Express eventually crawled to 109 all out in 18 overs, to hand the Lahore Lions a 55-run win. The extent of the win did not matter, though, as Mumbai only needed to beat the Northern Knights to qualify, which they failed to do, allowing Lahore Lions to enter the main draw along with the side from New Zealand.