T20 Champions League semis promise fireworks


A winning last-ball six and a brutal unbeaten century have set the stage for a rousing finale when the knockout matches of the Twenty20 Champions League are played over the weekend. Royal Challengers Bangalore surpassed a challenging target of 215 set by South Australian Redbacks when Arun Karthik smashed the last ball from Daniel Christian over mid-wicket in the final league match on Wednesday night. A day earlier, David Warner had cracked an unbeaten 135 off 69 balls with eight sixes and 11 fours to help New South Wales Blues knock out defending champions Chennai Super Kings from the race.
The two thrillers lit up a 10-team club tournament played over the past two weeks before half-empty stands in Hyderabad, Bangalore and Chennai. Royal Challengers will clash with New South Wales in the first semi-final in Bangalore on Friday, while English county Somerset meet Mumbai Indians in Chennai a day later. The final will be played in Chennai on Sunday night for the top prize of $2.5 million. The runners-up take home $1.3 million. The third edition of the tournament, featuring the top Twenty20 domestic sides from around the world, has drawn a poor response from Indian fans despite a hotly contested preliminary league.
All the 10 teams, divided into two groups, remained in contention for the semi-finals until the last round of league matches.
New South Wales topped group A with six points, while Mumbai Indians finished second with five points despite the absence of star batsman Sachin Tendulkar due to a toe injury. Mumbai Indians were so badly depleted with injuries that the organisers allowed them to field five foreign players, instead of the stipulated four, in their playing XIs. Four teams finished with two wins each in group B, but Somerset advanced by gaining an extra point from a washed-out match, while Royal Challengers nudged ahead of Kolkata Knight Riders and South African Warriors on superior run-rate. The other teams in the fray were Trinidad and Tobago and Cape Cobras of South Africa.