A. Joseph Antony
HYDERABAD: Sailing on a superlative 76 by Hamish Marshall, the Royal Bengal Tigers registered a comfortable eight-wicket win over the Lahore Badshahs in the Indian Cricket League at the Lal Bahadur Stadium here on Sunday. Posting the highest individual score of the tournament thus far, the 29-year-old Aucklander had a brace of sixes and nine boundaries in his 53-ball essay.
When the quest for 140-run target began, Mohammad Sami generated speed but strayed, Marshall exploiting the erratic line with an upper cut six. Fellow-opener Deep Dasgupta dug in, finding the fence thrice. It took the guiles of Saqlain Mushtaq to separate the Bengal openers, the offie’s very first ball, eliciting a catch lobbed straight to Azhar Mahmood at short mid-on. Abhishek Jhunjhunwala was the tweaker’s next victim, also in the same over, stumped by keeper Khalid.
Marshall soldiered on, combining well with skipper Craig McMillan to keep the scoreboard ticking with singles when boundaries were hard to come by. As the contest progressed, the ropes came within reach, McMillan hoisting Shahid Nazir over the sight screen at the far end.
The Badshahs, who won the toss and decided to take first strike, were egged on by a fairly large Sunday evening turnout but restricted to 139 for six by leggie Upul Chandana’s four for 21. Imrans, Nazir and Farhat, seemed well on their way, till Nazir backed up too far and was caught out of bounds by McMillan’s direct hit.
A lull descended on his vociferous band of supporters, when Inzamam-ul-Haq was declared caught behind after a referral. The Badshahs skipper had kept them entertained with some mighty swipes and sweeps to the fine leg and midwicket region.
Farhat, with flair and flourish, was in control, except on the odd occasion, when foxed by a Lance Klusener trimmer. The Punjab pulveriser chose to live dangerously though, coming down the track a shade too often. Lured by a short one from Upul Chandana, he turned around to see Deep Dasgupta whip the bails off.
The dismissal of Azhar Mahmood verged on the spectacular, mid-wicket Abhishek Jhunjhunwala latching on to the catch inches from the boundary strip, more importantly retaining his balance like a gymnast off a pommel horse.
Shahid Yousuf, in his unbeaten 32, had a brace of sixes and three boundaries, while Hafiz Khalid had the crowds delirious, flicking and square cutting Andre Adams for sixes of successive balls towards the close.
Earlier, Delhi Giants recorded a 13-run victory over Ahmedabad Rockets, thanks to a superb 43 by man-of-the-match Paul Nixon.
This was despite a blistering last-over assault by the Rockets’ Reetinder Sodhi, embellished by two towering sixes off the last two balls.
Invited to bat on a sunny afternoon, the Giants consolidated on the solid 38-run opening stand between Dale Benkenstein and Dihan Gunawardene. Abhinav Bali’s 35 was the precursor to more fireworks to follow, his 20-ball knock studded with three sixes and a four.
Nixon it was who bludgeoned the opposition to submission, as the irrepressible Englishman pummelled paceman and spinner alike. On one occasion, he slammed Jason Gillespie’s full toss over his head for a straight-driven six.
Another big hit over cow corner, off the same bowler, measured 106 metres and is frontrunner for the biggest six award that carries a $10,000 reward.
The scores: Lahore Badshahs 139 for six (Imran Farhat 42, Shahid Yousuf not out 32; Upul Chandana four for 21) lost to Royal Bengal Tigers 140 for two (Hamish Marshall 76 not out, Craig McMillan 35 not out).
Delhi Giants 167 for seven (Paul Nixon 43, Abhinav Bali 35; Heath Streak three for 23) bt Ahmedabad Rockets 154 for nine (Parvez Aziz 48, Reetinder Sodhi 51 not out)..