Openers rocket Ahmedabad to victory
Ahmedabad Rockets 137 for 0 (Campbell 66*, Goodwin 61*) beat Royal Bengal Tigers 131 (McMillan 21, Rao 4-15) by 10 wickets
Seam and spin combined to provide Ahmedabad Rockets their second win in front of a raucous home crowd. Rakesh Patel led the charge and the spinners backed it up perfectly to set up the win by restricting Royal Bengal Tigers to 131. Openers Ryan Campbell and Murray Goodwin then ensured the target was reached without breaking a sweat by putting on the biggest opening partnership in ICL history, thereby handing Bengal their first defeat of the competition.
Patel hit a full length and moved the ball fractionally to keep the batsman on a leash. He bowled four overs on a trot and gave away only 12 runs. The spinners - S Sriram, Bhima Rao and Sumit Kalia - followed up on the good start to choke Bengal in the middle and end overs.
The opening partnership of Hamish Marshall and Deep Dasgupta, who averaged 57.33 before the game, ended on 31 when Dasgupta was yorked by Patel. Hamish departed six runs later, caught short of the crease by a direct hit from Rao. That proved to be the turning point. Abhishek Jhunjhunwala pulled Heath Streak straight to midwicket after consuming 21 balls for his 13, extending his miserable run in this season.
If Bengal were looking to break free against the spinners, they were in for a surprise. Rao, introduced in the 16th over, picked up four wickets but it was Sriram who applied the squeeze with a two-wicket haul in the middle overs. The ball turned enough on a favourable pitch to keep the batsmen in check and though Craig McMillan did hit Kalia for a few boundaries it was not enough. In the 15th over, with the score on 94, McMillan lost his stumps, going for a heave against Sriram. An over later, Rohan Gavaskar was stumped by a classical offbreak from Bhima Rao, who then ran through the lower order. He ended with the flattering figures of 3-0-15-4 as Bengal crumbled for 131.
Goodwin got the chase rattling along at top speed by hitting three boundaries off Abu Nechim in the first over. Both Goodwin and Campbell are excellent back-foot players and crunched quite a few on-the-up drives through covers. McMillan tried to stem the rot with spin but Shibsagar Singh, the left-arm spinner, bowled short in his first over and was carted for two sixes and a four by Campbell.
McMillan's last hope was Upul Chandana, who's had a great time with the ball in this tournament. He too erred on the shorter side and Goodwin put him away for three boundaries in his second over.
The crushing defeat saw Bengal slip to No. 2 in the points table, while Ahmedabad move up to fourth with two wins from five games.
Sriram Veera is a staff writer at Cricinfo