Chennai, Sep 24 : Powered by a 88-run opening stand between Herschelle Gibbs and young Richard Levi, Nashua Cape Cobras, the South African champions, cruised past New South Wales Blues by seven wickets in the opening Group A match of the Nokia Champions League T20 tournament here on Saturday.
In a one-sided encounter, the Blues, the No. 2 ranked team from Australia, were restricted to 135 for eight in their 20 overs before Gibbs and Levi took the game away from them with an entertaining partnership as the Cobras scored
136 for three in 17.2 overs.
Gibbs (55, 47b, 2 x 6, 5 x 4) and Levi (43, 27b, 1 x 6, 6 x 4) were up and flying as they smashed 25 runs in two overs by off-spinner Nathan Hauritz who opened the bowling to set a platform. Even young fast bowler Pat Cummins was not spared as he conceded 16 runs in his second over after commencing with a maiden.
So much so that the first six overs yielded 58 runs and the Cobras were well on their way to a comfortable victory. Although the 23-year old Levi departed in the 10th over followed by Owais Shah in the next, Gibbs continued his merry way to notch is 19th T20 half-century off 41 balls.
Thereafter, it was a matter of time before the Cobras reached the target despite Gibbs' dismissal in the 15th over by which time, the South African were in sight of victory.
Earlier, the Blues innings was a stop-go affair with no appreciable momentum after the dismissal of openers Shane Watson (34) and David Warner (20) who put on 41 in 4.5 overs. Both survived a dropped catch early in their innings.
After their exit, the going was rather slow and in fact, Blues went without a boundary for 45 deliveries during which there was neither consolidation nor acceleration as they lost wickets at regular intervals.
It was not as if the Cobras bowlers did anything extraordinary, but they got their basics right and focused on stump-to-stump line that tested the patience of the batsmen.
So much so that the Warner-Watson partnership was undoubtedly the most entertaining part of the Blues innings as both delivered some mighty blows, but ultimately, couldn't really carry it off.
Eventually, the Blues needed to thank the two dropped catches that helped Warner who was then on 11 and Watson (on 7) to add some substance to the innings.
Seamers Charl Langeveldt and Vernon Philander picked up two wickets apiece as both showed a lot of discipline in maintaining a tight line and length to have the batsmen in a knot. (IANS)