Honours Even in JPL Scorcher
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On a day of extreme temperatures in Sano and Yokohama all four Japan Premier League teams went home with one win apiece after some hard-fought T20 cricket.
The two unbeaten teams, South Kanto Super Kings and West Kanto Hurricanes met at the YC&AC to decide who would go top of the table.
The Super Kings showed why they are the reigning champions by cruising to a surprisingly simple win against the Hurricanes in the morning match.
Piyush Kumbhare (2/13), Raman Tanwar (2/11) and Manoj Bardhwaj (3/10) all starred with the ball as the Super Kings bowled out the much-hyped Hurricanes batting line up for just 65.
Former pro-baseball star Shogo Kimura (21) was the only Hurricanes batsmen who looked like scoring runs before being dismissed by a sharp catch to Bhardwaj off his own bowling.
The Hurricanes showed plenty of fight in defending the small total, taking five wickets thanks to a fine opening spell from Nozomi Tomizawa (2/12) before captain Alex Patmore guided his side to victory in the 13th over.
After a slightly disappointing morning match the visiting fans were treated to a more entertaining contest in the afternoon.
The Super Kings, batting first this time, made it to 145 before being bowled out on the final ball of the innings.
Pavethy Velusamy was the chief architect of the innings, hitting seven boundaries and a six in his 40 off 22 balls, Tomizawa again the pick ofthe bowlers with 4/25.
In reply the Hurricanes lost Bebe Miyaji early before Makoto Taniyama (30) teamed up with Supun Nawarathna for a 114 run partnership, which broke the back of the chase.
After clubbing 11 fours and five sixes Nawarathna was eventually caught by Tsuyoshi Takada for 91 but by that stage the damage was done and the Hurricanes were able to chase down the target with an over to spare.
In Sano, temperatures reached 40 degrees as the North Kanto Lions won the toss and elected to bat against the East Kanto Sunrisers.
A 55 run opening partnership between Chathura Aravinda (25) and 14 year-old prodigy Kazumasa Takahashi (36) laid a solid foundation before Dhanuska Liyanagunawardana (23) and Thapa Bijaya (23) got the Lions to a healthy total of 159/4 off their 20 overs.
A constant flow of wickets meant the Sunrisers couldn’t maintain the required momentum despite an entertaining knock of 28 from 15 balls by Sanjaya Yapabandara.
Former Nepal international Raj Pradhan was the pick of the bowlers with 3/13 as the Lions bowled out the Sunrisers for 112.
The Sunrisers, suffering from the heat, were not given much chance of winning the second match but some smart bowling made it possible to restrict the Lions to a below-par 123/9 off their 20 overs.
The spin combination of Dhugal Bedingfield (1/14) and Abhishek Khattri Chhetri (1/15) restricted the flow of runs while the pace of Ashik Chowdury (3/31) and Hanif Khan (3/23) did the damage.
In reply the Sunrisers were struggling at 36/4 but a match winning innings from Bhutto Umair (56), which included five sixes, was enough to get his team over the line by three wickets in the last over.
The end result is that the Super Kings and Hurricanes are level on three wins at the top of the table while the Lions and Hurricanes are level on one win at the bottom.
The round robin stage of the JPL concludes in September when the Hurricanes travel to the Sano International Cricket Ground to take on the Lions and the Super Kings travel to the newly rennovated Sammu ground to play the Sunrisers.