A clinical all-round display by the Northern Districts helped them crush Lahore Lions by a whopping 72 runs to all but ensure their entry into the main round of the Champions League T20 in Raipur.
Put into bat under overcast conditions, twin half-centuries by skipper Daniel Flynn (53) and wicketkeeper-batsman BJ Watling (53) helped the New Zealand outfit's reach a respectable 170 for six in 20 overs.
A dismal performance with the bat saw Lions being skittled out for 98 in 18 overs, which should seriously dent their chances of qualifying as the New Zealand outfit are all but sure of making it to the next round with two wins in two matches. Nine out of 10 Lions batsmen dismissed failed to reach double figures.
Tim Southee (3-22 in four overs) and Trent Boult (2-12 in four overs) bowled a deadly opening spell of swing and seam bowling to decimate the top half within six overs of Powerplay with less than 20 runs on board. There was no way that the Lions would have made a comeback after such a deflating start to their innings as they succumbed to a crushing defeat.
It started in the second over when Southee bowled a full swing delivery on left-handed opener Nasir Jamshed's toes. The batsman could barely bring his bat down as the off-stump went cartwheeling.
Controversial opener Ahmed Shehzad (2) then poked at a delivery from left-arm seamer Trent boult. The ball moved a shade after pitching as Shehzad fished at it giving Watling an easy catch behind the stumps. Southee then made 16 for three when he dig one short as skipper Mohammed Hafeez (5) trying to give him the charge could only edge to Watling.
With Southee getting his second wicket, it was time for Boult to level scores with his new ball partner as he angled one across Umar Akmal (1), who got an inside edge onto the stumps to make it 17 for four. The top half was back in the hut when Umar Siddiq was adjudged leg before by umpire Vineet Kulkarni when a Southee delivery swung in to hit him on the pads.
At 19 for five, with all the top-order batsman back in the pavilion, without a double digit score, the match was as good as over. Saad Nasim (58) held one end up but the target was simply out of his reach.
The Lions innings also saw a spectacular piece of fielding from Southee to get Asif Raza out. Raza tried to hoick Scott Styris over mid-wicket boundary
where Southee was stationed. The big fast bowler maintained his body balance as he judged the catch well. As his momentum was shifting over the boundary line, he decided to flick the ball in as Daryl Mitchell completed a sensational relay catch.
Earlier, Skipper Flynn smashed his way to 30-ball-53 as his partnership of 90 runs in 9.3 overs for the fourth wicket with glovesman BJ Watling (53 off 37 balls) laid the foundation for a commendable total.
This was after Northern were in a spot of bother at 60 for three by the end of the eighth over having lost the in-form Kane Williamson (14), Anton Devcich (9) and Daniel Harris (20) quickly.
While Flynn hit five fours and two sixes, Watling had seven boundaries to his credit apart from a six. Flynn and Watling first got the measure of the Lions attack by rotating the strike before the launch a furious assault at the rear. The best shot was a hook by left-hander Flynn when Imran Ali tried a short ball. Flynn went back and across in a flash to hook it behind backward square leg.
Flynn's 50 came off only 27 balls when he first flashed an Aizaz Cheema delivery behind point and then picked the slower delivery to loft it straight into the sightscreen for a six. He completed the milestone with a single.
He was well-complemented by Watling, who would himself hit a few lusty blows including a huge six over cow corner off Mohammed Hafeez. In between, Watling pushed Flynn for a lot of twos as Northern's running between the wickets was admirable.
Flynn was finally stumped by Umar Akmal off offie Adnan Rasool's bowling as he tried to give bowler charge and missed the line completely. Watling completed his 50 off 33 balls and was out trying to hit Aizaz Cheema over long-on only to be caught by Ahmed Shehzad. Cheema also removed Scott Styris off the very next delivery, with Shehzad taking an even better catch.
For Lions, Pakistan international Cheema was the most successful bowler with figures of three for 35 while Hafeez, Asif Raza and Rasool got a wicket apiece.