Will Bengal have the last roar?
Match factsNov 11, 2008
Start time 7.30pm (1400 GMT)
The Big PictureOne of the most consistent performers in the ICL, Royal Bengal Tigers, will have to battle hard on Tuesday to reach one step closer to that elusive silverware: they have faltered at the semi-final stage in previous ICL tournaments. Their opponents in the semi-final will be Hyderabad Heroes, the defending champions, and a team that embarrassed them by nine wickets in their last game on Saturday.
A shift in the final leg of matches from Hyderabad to Ahmedabad has denied the reigning winners the advantage of having a buoyant home crowd backing them, but they performed splendidly in their first outing at the Sardar Vallabhai Patel Stadium. Choosing to field, Hyderabad, with early strikes from opening bowler Syed Sahabuddin and wickets for left-arm spinners Nicky Boje and Inder Shekar Reddy, bundled out Bengal for 111. That score was chased down by two of Hyderabad's Indian stars, Ibrahim Khaleel and Ambati Rayudu, without much fuss, and a similar performance is what captain Chris Harris will expect again. It they deliver, Hyderabad will make it a rematch of their best-of-three finals against Lahore last season.
Harris is one of the many allrounders in the team, alongside Abdul Razzaq, Boje, Stuart Binny and Justin Kemp. (A back problem, though, has prevented Kemp from bowling in this tournament.) The all-round balance ensures the team doesn't rely on big performances and their bowling have generally been disciplined - four have conceded less than seven an over in the tournament. Bengal have been reliant on Hamish Marshall, the leading run-getter in the tournament, to power them at the top, with Deep Dasgupta and Craig McMillan chipping in. However, their bowlers have been expensive: only Eklak Ahmid goes at less than seven per over and they will hope Upul Chandana takes his third fourth-wicket haul on Tuesday. The dew has affected the bowlers, more so in the second innings, in Ahmedabad - a factor that could influence the captain's decision at the toss.
Form guide (last five matches, most recent first)
- Will Hyderabad be double-teamed on Tuesday? Both of Chandana's four-wicket hauls have been backed up by unbeaten half-centuries from Hamish Marshall, resulting in wins over Chennai Superstars and Lahore Badshahs, the two other semi-finalists.
- Prior to his 3 for 22 in Bengal's rout, Syed Sahabuddin had only one wicket for 149 runs with an economy-rate of 9.31.
- The batsmen haven't been able to get after Boje though: his economy-rate of 5.21 is the best in the tournament, with team-mate Harris next with 5.88.
Players to watchOne battle to watch out for will be between the two wicketkeepers, Deep Dasgupta and Ibrahim Khaleel. With places in the ICL India XI up for grabs, both will be keen to impress. Dasgupta, who has been opening the batting for Bengal, has 232 runs in eight innings. Khaleel, one of the stars for the India XI last season, hasn't got too many opportunities in this tournament. However, promoted up the order in Jimmy Maher's absence on Saturday, his steady 54 not out guided them to victory. Will he get another chance?
Justin Kemp is playing as a specialist bat, but he will need to do better than his average of 9.40 in the tournament. A best of 14 is disappointing given his big-hitting prowess.
After the mauling on Saturday, Craig McMillan jokingly said his team had lost the game at the toss. Will McMillan be able to buoy up the spirits ahead of the semi-final? Winning the toss, and performing with the bat, will be a good way to go about it.
McMillan's opposition counterpart and former New Zealand team-mate, Chris Harris, is the man you can rely on under pressure. He had delivered in close chases, and can choke the opposition with tight overs when needed.