Lahore felled by Marshall pyrotechnics
Upul Chandana and Hamish Marshall handed the Lahore Badshahs their second consecutive defeat in three days in Hyderabad. Chandana restricted the target to 140 and Marshall led the Royal Bengal Tigers home with an assured innings. Imran Farhat and Shahid Yousuf were the only two to cross 20 as Lahore collapsed to the accuracy of Chandana.
It was an intelligent spell of leg spin from Chandana. He not only varied his pace, length and trajectory but also the degree of turn. He was introduced in the 10th over with the score on 50 for 1 and struck immediately, luring Tahir Mughal into giving a return catch off a flighted delivery. It was interesting to see how he changed his style according to the stature of the batsman. He initially pushed the ball through and kept it full to Inzamam-ul-Haq who swept him couple of times. Suddenly, he dropped one short but got it to hurry through straight and Inzamam could only nick the attempted cut shot. Cut to the 16th over: sensing Imran Farhat might try to jump out, he dragged back the length and pushed it slightly wider outside off to leave his man stranded outside the crease. He got his fourth wicket four balls later with more than a little help from his fielder Abhishek Jhunjhunwala: Azhar Mahmood had slog-swept a flighted delivery to deep midwicket but Jhunjhunwala managed to hold on to the ball with his foot just a inch away from the line.
It was another spinner, the renowned Saqlain Mushtaq, who threatened to reprise Chandana's effort and derail Bengal's chase. With the score on 51 for 0, Saqlain struck with his first ball as Deep Dasgupta chipped a flighted delivery straight to short midwicket. Five balls and a couple of tantalising doosras later, he imparted overspin to an offbreak and the ball rolled off Jhunjunwala's defensive blade back to the keeper. Unaware of its destination, the batsman had stepped out to steal a run but was robbed of his wicket. But even Saqlain couldn't stop Marshall from steering Bengal to victory.
Marshall started with a flurry of boundaries against Mahmood and Mohammad Sami, an upper cut over wide third man off Sami being the most eye-catching stroke. He turned the heat against Shahid Nazir, picking two boundaries in the eighth over. He started tentatively against Saqlain, but with the calm Craig McMillan for company, he managed to played out the spinner. Realising that spin is king, Inzamam brought in the part-time leg spin of Imran Farhat, but he was put away for two boundaries in the 13th over and the pressure evaporated.
Earlier, Chandana's good work was complemented by some sharp fielding, and accurate seam bowling. The fast bowlers hit the short-of-length to extract bounce and cramp the batsmen. Farhat capitalised on the rare full ones, square-driving for fours but couldn't tackle the short-of-length attack. Andre Adams and Eklak Ahmid, who bowled his quota at a stretch, proved difficult to put away in the middle overs. Adams mixed length deliveries with change of pace and Eklak repeatedly hit the deck hard. Only Lance Klusener, who bowled full. without much seam movement, went for some runs. Adams too was hit for two sixes in the last over of the innings when Shahid Yousuf connected with two swipes. But it was a little too late.
Sriram Veera is a staff writer at Cricinfo