Royal Bengal Tigers 170 for 4 (Marshall 55) beat Mumbai Champs 158 (Ahmed 3-22) by 12 runs
Hamish Marshall's polished half-century, and quick contributions from Rohan Gavaskar and Lance Klusener, propelled the Royal Bengal Tigers to 170 for 4, a match-winning total, in Ahmedabad. The Mumbai Champs turned in another below-par performance - they were dismissed for 158 - and suffered their third straight loss of the tournament.
The feature of Marshall's innings was that all of his shots, barring a heave to cow corner, were conventional. He hit a couple of sixes over the bowler's head but, instead of long-handle shots, they were merely an extension of the follow-through.
Steve Rixon, a coach in the ICL, had a revealing story to tell about convincing Surrey's Mark Butcher to play Twenty20. Butcher wasn't sure he could play this format but, during a net session, Rixon told him to play his shots with a follow through. Much to Butcher's surprise the ball flew over the cover boundary. That is how Marshall has batted in this tournament: nothing extravagant, just good old cricket but with a pronounced sense of purpose while completing a shot.
He lifted Johan Van der Wath, who had another poor day with the ball, and Nathan Astle straight over their heads for a six and pulled Michael Kasprowicz over deep midwicket.
Marshall's test came against Sridhar Iyer, a tall legspinner, and he went down the track to the first ball and lofted it with the turn over extra cover. Iyer shortened his length but got cut to point boundary. Marshall went down the track once again but his lofted shot didn't clear long-off. It was a neat little innings and it laid the base for the assault from Rohan Gavaskar and Lance Klusener.
Prior to this game Klusener had faced only 24 balls for 22 runs with two fours and, surprisingly, no sixes. He hit one today, a monstrous shot over long-on against van der Wath. His high back lift and the powerful swing of his heavy bat fetched Bengal valuable runs. It was Rohan Gavaskar, however, who really turned it on by smashing his first ball from Avinash Yadav over deep midwicket. He found the cover-point boundary thrice against the medium-pacers and his 30 off 12 balls helped achieve a challenging target.
Mumbai have been unable to gel as a unit in the tournament and they had another bad day. There was the odd contribution with the bat from Astle and a late charge from van der Wath and Subhojit Paul created some artificial excitement but they never really threatened Bengal. When you are losing consistently even the attacking innings tend to get overlooked. Mumbai's start to the tournament has been poor but the worrying bit is that they haven't shown much improvement.
Sriram Veera is a staff writer at Cricinfo