Eagles eliminate Sussex in a thrilling encounter
by Jinu Sabastian

Ground:Feroz Shah Kotla, Delhi
Scorecard:Eagles v Sussex
Player:JS Gatting, LJ Wright, PP Chawla, Yasir Arafat, RR Rossouw
Event:Champions League 2009/10

DateLine: 13th October 2009


The Champions League 2009/10 continued to throw up some exciting matches as Sussex ran Eagles close but in the end the latter had some reserves left to cross over the line. The South African franchise Diamond Eagles looked well on course to win the encounter with Sussex Sharks but Eagles being a South African side nearly choked at the end. The game looked certain to go into Sussex's favour but late boundaries from McLaren helped to tie the game thus sending the encounter into super over Eliminator. Eagles got nine runs in their super over and then de Villiers delivered the sucker-punches when he dismissed Dwayne Smith and Hamilton-Brown in successive balls to hand Eagles a thrilling win.


Electing to bat first, Sussex was off to a flier thanks to Luke Wright's explosive hitting in the initial stage off the innings. Eagles' bowlers looked rattled with the onslaught and once the adrenaline rush got better off Wright who was cleaned up by de Villiers the South African side was able to exert a great degree off control over the county side. Nash followed without doing anything off note and Hamilton-Brown was the victim off a superbly taken return catch by de Villiers. With the score reading 33 for 3, in walked the big-hitter Dwayne Smith and much was expected off him. But once again he disappointed Sussex fans and his team-mates alike as he was cleaned up for just nine runs.


Sussex skipper Yardy, who missed the first game, in the company off Joe Gatting tried to get the county side on track but the low bounce proved too much for the skipper as he chopped Bailey onto his stumps. Sussex failed to hit the top gear as the Eagles' bowlers kept a tight line and length to choke the batsmen. The accurate yorker length bowling from the South African bowlers denied the batsmen the room to free their arms to collect the boundaries. Finally in the 18th over Gatting got a length ball from du Preez which the batsmen without fail deposited over midwicket for a huge six and that was a boundary after 32 balls. Joyce realised that Gatting was the man to be on strike and was run-out while attempting to turn over the strike. A couple of boundaries followed and some frantic running in the last few balls took Sussex to 119 - one better than Wayamba earlier in the day - in their 20 overs.


If Sussex had believed that they could restrict Diamond Eagles with Wayamba-like bowling, the South African openers did not share that idea. The openers opened their wings and soared high enough for Sussex Sharks to just keep looking in despair. Opener Rossouw was the destroyer as he opened up his shoulders to send the ball to different parts off the ground as the Eagles were off the blocks in a jiffy. McLaren was sensible enough to turn the strike over rather than going for the heroics himself and Rossouw did not disappoint his team-mates.


The opening four overs saw four different bowlers being employed by Sussex skipper Michael Yardy but nothing could upset the rhythm off Rossouw who looked in supreme touch. Sussex had their chance when Rossouw offered a low catch to Kirtley at short fine-leg off Arafat but it was grassed. Then the keeper grassed McLaren off Yardy and a couple off balls later Rossouw was lucky enough to escape a stumping chance. Rossouw completed a well paced half-century and just when Eagles looked like completing a easy win over Sussex, Chawla trapped McLaren leg before and Rossouw continued to live a charmed life when he nearly ran himself out due to ball-watching. Chawla failed to keep his head at the crucial moment and failed to break the stumps at the right time.


Chawla then proceeded to tempt van Wyk to loft one to long-off where Ed Joyce picked up an easy catch and a small opening shone through for Sussex. Chawla finished with and impressive figures off 2 for 17 in his quota off 4 overs and Sussex slowly began to apply the screws on the chase. Rossouw and Dippenaar collected a couple off boundaries to ease the pressure but the latter could not absorb the pressure and was cleaned up by a genuine off break from Hamilton-Brown. Rossouw finally lobbed an easy catch to keeper Hodd and it seemed that Sussex might just sneak through for a win. But drama still remained in the game and in the last over bowled by Arafat McLaren found the boundary ropes twice to tie the game thus making the game go into the Eliminator mode.


Sussex nominated Arafat to bowl the over while Eagles nominated Rossouw, Ryan McLaren and A McLaren to bat the super over. Diamond Eagles nominated de Villiers to bowl while Sussex nominated Luke Wright, Dwayne Smith and Hamilton-Brown to bat the super-over.


Eagles in their super over could manage only nine runs for the loss off one wicket and Sussex needed just ten runs to qualify for the next stage. The look on the faces of Sussex team seemed to suggest that they were satisfied but CJ de Villiers had other ideas. Just two good length balls were needed to dislodge Smith and Hamilton-Brown without scoring to hand his team a sensational win. Thus Eagles along with NSW from group B proceeded into the Super Eights.