James Franklin's unbeaten knock of 65 from 48 balls proved to be the difference as Leo Lions reached the finals of the MCL with a 17-run victory over Virgo Super Kings in the second semi-final played at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Friday. Lions will now take on Gemini Arabians in the final which will be played on Saturday.
With the match being played on the same surface that was used for the 1st semi-final less than 24 hours ago, the toss was going to be crucial as ‘win the toss and bat’ was going to be the plan for both skippers. Luckily for the Leo Lions, it was their skipper Brian Lara who called it correct and he had no hesitation in opting to bat first.
Once the game started, though, it was the Super Kings bowlers led by Jacob Oram, who went on to finish with figures of 4-0-9-1, that had the early laugh as the trio of Hamish Marshall, Neil Carter, and Brendan Taylor were dismissed with only 34 runs on the board. Though Lions still had Lara to call upon, it was the former New Zealander all-rounder who stepped up in the big game.
Coming to bat at number five, Franklin started out cautiously, steadying the ship initially with his skipper before launching into an onslaught later on. It was his single-handed effort that rescued Lions as the likes of Scott Styris and Johan Botha also failed to provide a meaty finish to their innings. They finished at 139/7 in their 20 overs with Franklin remaining unbeaten on 65.
For the Super kings, Oram was the standout bowler with his miserly figures while Brett lee claimed three wickets.
The Lions' total which looked less than convincing initially changed into a challenging one as Super Kings made a horrible start to their run chase. Neil McKenzie, Humayun Farhat, and Azhar Mahmood were all back in the pavilion with only 18 runs on the board.
Skipper Graeme Smith, who could only watch on is despair from the other end, was left with the unenviable task of consolidating the Kings innings and he seemed to do just that adding 53 runs for the fourth wicket along with Hasan Raza. However, with the duo being dismissed in the space of two runs, the chase was once again derailed.
Despite boasting the likes of Oram, James Foster, and Lee, Super kings could not resurrect their run chase and ended up 19 runs short of the target to give Lara’s men a spot in the final. Kyle Jarvis took three wickets for the Lions while Robin Peterson and Fidel Edwards bagged a couple each.
Brief scores: Leo Lions – 139/7 off 20 overs (Franklin 65*, Oram 1/9) beat Virgo Super Kings – 122/9 off 20 overs (Smith 39, Jarvis 3/17) by 17 runs