Raipur, Sep 16: Defending champions Mumbai Indians were knocked out of the Champions League Twenty20 (CLT20) by Northern Knights here tonight.
Knights cruised to a six-wicket victory over Mumbai to qualify for the main draw. The win also helped Lahore Lions book their place in the main stage, which starts tomorrow in Hyderabad. Earlier in the day, Lions had defeated Southern Express by 55 runs.
Mumbai are the first defending champions to be eliminated in the preliminary stage. And Lions made history by becoming the first side from Pakistan to reach the main round of CLT20.
Chasing a below-par target of 133, Knights coasted home in the 18th over. Opener Kane Williamson played a superb knock of 53 from 36 balls to guide the New Zealand team into the main round. Knights finished the qualifiers unbeaten, winning all three matches. Mumbai had one win out of three while Lions won two. Express lost all three games. Lions will be in Group A while Knights enter into Group B.
Earlier, Mumbai batting floundered yet again as the high-profile franchise could manage only 132 for nine. Save skipper Kieron Pollard, who scored 31 off 24 balls, none of the Mumbai Indians batsmen displayed enough firepower against a disciplined Northern bowling attack which used the sluggish pitch to good effect.
It was young Shreyas Gopal, who smashed 24 off 12 balls, who took MI past 130-run mark.
While 39-year-old Scott Styris (3/21) had the best figures among the bowlers, it was Tim Southee (3/24), who was both deadly and economical in his first three overs before Gopal took him for 15 in the last over.
At the start, Mike Hussey (7) got impatient as he tried to give Southee the charge in the fourth over of the innings but couldn't get the required elevation as Scott Kuggeleijn took a diving catch at mid-on.
MI's experiment with Jalaj Saxena (10) failed yet again as the MP all-rounder managed a six of Kuggeleijn but was gone when Kane Williamson took a blinder at cover, inches off the ground with Styris being the bowler.
It was not expected that Jalaj will be Rohit Sharma's replacement but he has done precious little in the three matches that he played in the tournament.
The pitch aided military-medium bowlers of Knights as the normally attacking Lendl Simons (13, 17) also found it tough to get going. Finally, he lost his patience trying a slog shot moving towards leg-stump but was bowled in the process giving Styris his second wicket.
MI were struggling at 34 for three in the eighth over. With not many runs on the board and overs running by, it was consolidation time for the 'Men In Electric Blue' but unfortunately it didn't happen.