Hasan Raza bludgeoned 98, the highest score in ICL history, to ensure the Lahore Badshahs continued their triumphant march with a convincing 50-run win over the Mumbai Champs.
The Champs got a taste of things to come as Imran Farhat flicked the second ball of the match for a huge six and Imran Nazir crashed two fours to the point boundary in the next over. However, Johan van der Wath and Tino Best each struck early: van der Wath slanted one down the pads and Imran Nazir walked right across to lose his leg stump and Himayun Farhat received a similar delivery from Best which the umpire felt would have made contact.
Imran Farhat repeatedly made room to bludgeon fours and sixes as 40 came up on the board after just five overs. One such dance down the track resulted in a drop catch at wide long-off, and he celebrated with a heave over midwicket for six. He fell soon after as wicketkeeper Subhojit Paul took a fine catch, standing up to medium-pacer Ranjit Khirid.
Raza, who made first-ball ducks in his previous two games, was innovative, constantly shuffling around in an attempt to unsettle the bowlers, and successfully picked up scoops and paddles. He showed off his repertoire of strokes in one over off Best: a classical straight drive, a sweep past square-leg, a superbly-timed cover drive and a pull for six. He capitalised on several missed catches to finish unbeaten on 98 off 52 as the Badhshahs amassed 187.
For the Champs to chase down the stiff target, they needed something special from their captain Nathan Astle. However, he and Robin Morris fell in the second over to Rana Naved-ul-Hasan. The Champs were lucky to not lose more wickets early as their batsmen struggled to pick the back-of-the-hand slower ball - liberally used by Naved and Azhar Mehmood - with several wafts meeting thin air.
The Champs couldn't recover from the constricting spell from the new-ball bowlers and though Shreyas Khanolkar and Kiran Powar tilted at the windmills for a while, the Mumbai side slumped to their third defeat in four games.