In the first of Saturday's Masters Champions League (MCL) doubleheader, the Gemini Arabians took on Leo Lions. Both teams, having won their first games were looking to go top of the table.
The Leo Lions won the toss and elected to bat first. Although the Lions got off to a good start, thanks to Hamish Marshall, one the Kiwi batsman got out wickets kept falling at regular intervals for the Lions.
Marshall scored 16 off 9 balls and hit three fours in his short innings. Marshall's dismissal led to a batting collapse as Muttiah Muralitharan ran through the top order of the Lions.
After 8.3 overs, the Lions were 57/5 and in deep trouble. However, New Zealand all-rounders, James Franklin and Scott Styris stabilised the innings for the Lions with their 57-run partnership for the sixth wicket.
Franklin scored 35 off 37 while Styris scored 32 off 31 balls. It might have been a blunder from the part of the Lions not to have sent Johan Botha in earlier as Botha had played a brilliant knock in the previous game. Botha came in to bat with only 2.4 overs left.
The Lions failed to put up a competitive total as they finished with 132/7 in 20 oves. Muralitharan was the pick of the Arabians’ bowlers as he finished with figures of 4/19 from four overs. Kyle Mills and Justin Kemp picked up a wicket each.
In response, the Arabians took a couple of overs to settle down as they got off to a relatively slow start. Virender Sehwag was the first to go as he missed a straighter one from Robin Peterson.
Richard Levi followed his captain to the dugout as he became Ramesh Powar's first victim. At 28/2, it might have seemed like an ominous situation for the Arabians. However, Kumar Sangakkara and Brad Hodge played brilliant knocks to guide their team to a well-deserved victory.
Sangakkara and Hodge were involved in a 105-run partnership that remained unbeaten until the end of the innings as they led the Arabians to an eight-wicket victory.
Hodge scored an excellent 65 off 43 balls as he played the attacking role and allowed Sangakkara to knock the ball around. Peterson and Powar picked up a wicket each for the Lions.
Brief Scores: Gemini Arabians 133/2, 18 overs (Hodge 65*, Sangakkara 41*; Powar 1/14) beat Leo Lions (toss) 132/7, 20 overs (Franklin 35, Styris 32; Muralitharan 4/19) by eight wickets.