Ahmedabad, October 19, 2008: The 12th match of the ICL 20s Indian Championship featured the resurgent hosts Ahmedabad Rockets taking on the formidable Lahore Badshahs at the sparkling new ICL facility, Sardar Patel Stadium, Ahmedabad. Experts predicted a high intensity encounter especially since both sides were looking for a win to keep their ICL season-2 campaign alive. In the end it was the Badshahs who came back strongly into the tournament with a big victory by a handsome margin of 31 runs. Azhar Mahmood won man of the match primarily for his inspired leadership.
Earlier in the day the Badshahs were playing the match without Inzamam Ul Haq and Azhar Mahmood was leading the side in his absence. Damien Martyn won the toss and elected to field on what looked like a hard sporting wicket with consistent bounce making it an ideal T20 pitch. The Badshahs opened with their left-right combination of the two Imrans (Farhat & Nazir). An eventful first over that saw a dropped catch of Nazir on naught. A positive aggressive approach and a few lusty hits had the Badshahs off to a flier at 28 in the third over.
However Gillespie had the last laugh dismissing the dangerous Farhat to a brilliant catch by skipper Martyn at mid on, much to the delight of the vociferously packed home crowd. The 5th over mark had the spectators glued to their seats with some brilliant cricket from both sides & the Badshahs showing their aggressive intent placed at 47/1, scoring at a rate of nearly 10 runs per over. Just when the Badshahs were firing all cylinders, the young spinner Kalia, got the Rockets back in the match foxing Rana Naved for 15 on the Badshahs score of 62. Kalia was working up a fine spell, getting good purchase from the track and two wickets off consecutive balls including that of Nazir to bring the initiative back with the Rockets. At the half way mark of their innings the Badshahs were placed at 72/4 and two new batsmen at the crease. It was déjà vu for the young Kalia who had scalped four Badshahs wicket when the two sides met at the last ICL edition.
Kalia ended his brilliant spell with his figures reading 3/19 off his allotted 4 overs. The 16th over mark had the Badshahs placed at 107/4 with the Rockets’ spinners Kalia & Sriram giving a good account of them. Martyn was riling on his spinners and part timer Parviz Aziz delivered the goods with two wickets in the 17th over to leave the Badshahs in major trouble at 117/6. Aziz was having a ball, picking his third victim with skipper Mahmood’s wicket in his second over. Martyn employed four spinners also using them in the death overs. It was turning out to be a spinners’ night for the Rockets and they accounted for 7 off the 9 wickets. The Badshahs folded their innings at 136/9 in their allotted 20 overs.
The Rockets chase started on the wrong foot with the dangerous Campbell castled by Sami n the first over scorecard reading 3/1. Martyn’s wicket in the 4th over, castled by a brilliant Azhar delivery had the Badshahs firmly in the driver’s seat. At the 5th over mark a tensed 40,000 packed Sardar Patel stadium was witnessing a fascinating cricket encounter with the Rockets preciously placed at 22/2.
The first bowling change in form of Rana Naved got rich dividends for the Badshahs’; striking with the first delivery with Murray Goodwin’s wicket to leave a tensed Rockets dugout. Mahmood introduced Saqlain in the 8th over, who foxed the left handed Sriram trapping him LBW for 2, to leave the Rockets in deep trouble at 38/4. The 10th over mark had the Rockets placed at 53/4, needing another 84 runs and dashing south paw Parviz Aziz holding the batting mantel in company of the combative Sodhi. Aziz played a rash stroke at a crucial stage in the 12th that brought curtains on his promising innings of 26 runs off 29 balls including 3 hits to the boundary. The Badshahs bowling arsenal was firing all cylinders and had the Lahore team with a strong upper hand at the end of the 13th over, with the Rockets scorecard reading a dismal 68/5.
A lack of application from any of the Rockets batsmen compounded by a clinical bowling performance from the Badshahs saw the Rockets scuttled out for 105 in 19.1 overs, giving the Badshahs a 31 run victory.