Mushtaq Ali T20: M. Ashwin's day out

Run-outs, a collision in the middle of the pitch and grassed offerings kept a pursuit of 145 engaging in a rather bizarre fashion before the host squeezed out a four-wicket last-over win.

M. Vedhan

M. Ashwin... all-round show for Tamil Nadu against Karnataka.   -  M. Vedhan

Tamil Nadu ‘ran’ into trouble before Karnataka ‘dropped’ it in a game of errors at the M. A. Chidambaram Stadium on Sunday.

Run-outs, a collision in the middle of the pitch and grassed offerings kept a pursuit of 145 engaging in a rather bizarre fashion before the host squeezed out a four-wicket last-over win.

The run-outs of a smooth stroking Vijay Shankar and Baba Aparajith — he crashed into Dinesh Karthik in the middle of the pitch — off successive deliveries jolted Tamil Nadu before Karthik and Murugan Ashwin broke free.

It was Ashwin’s day out. The leg-spinner flighted, spun, struck and contained before riding his luck with the willow in a demanding situation in this Syed Mushtaq Ali Twenty20 contest.

When Mohammad Taha put him down twice — on nine and 16 — at deep mid-wicket during a single Vinay Kumar over in the climactic stages, Karnataka had allowed the horse to bolt.

Cashing in on the lapses and striking freely on the leg-side, Ashwin remained unbeaten with a match-winning 20-ball 34 (3x4, 2x6) before a goodly crowd.

Guiding the side till the end of the 19th over was the experienced Dinesh Karthik (45, 33b, 4x4, 1x6). He went deep into his crease to cut, used his bat speed for the whip-drives and manoeuvred the bowling around with subtlety as well on a surface with some assistance for the bowlers.

The breezy sixth-wicket partnership of 55 in 33 balls between Karthik and Ashwin — they came together at a worrying 86 for five — settled the issue even as Karnataka agonised over the lapses.

Karthik was the third home batsman to be 'run out' when Taha, that man again, seemed to break the stumps without the ball in his hands but the third umpire ruled against the batsman.

For Karnataka, spinners K. Gowthan, bowling off-spin, and K. C. Cariappa, sending down his assorted variety, bowled with control to create the pressure. But sloppy fielding and catching hurt the side.

Earlier, after Karnataka opted to bat, Tamil Nadu pacemen K. Vigensh, extracting some bounce and moving the ball, and lively left-armer T. Natarajan struck early blows. Perhaps, opener Mayank Agarwal was unlucky to be adjudged caught behind off Vignesh.

Then, Ashwin bowled with a plan. He does not depend so much on his leg-spin as googly. When he was not delivering his wrong 'un, Ashwin kept the ball on middle and leg and cramped the batsmen for room.

He also had a trap set for C. M. Gautham at short fine-leg and had the batsman taken off an attempted scoop-sweep. The ploy worked against a batsman with a penchant for these strokes.

Ashwin also varied his trajectory and there were occasions when he was slower through the air than in the past. The leg-spinner had a well-set Samarth held at long-off with a flighted one.

Left-arm spinner Rahil Shah, bowling wicket to wicket and denying the batsmen width, snared the dangerous Karun Nair (14) on a miscued drive after holding one a tad back.

Samarth (40, 33b, 2x4, 1x6) impressed for Karnataka. He is relaxed and balanced in his stance and has an easy and straight flow of the bat.

Aparajith, injured near his ear, had made a good recovery, said Tamil Nadu coach Hrishikesh Kanitkar.

The Tamil Nadu boys left the arena a happy bunch.

In other South Zone matches, Hyderabad beat Goa by 51 runs, while Kerala beat Andhra by 21 runs.

The scores:

First round: Karnataka 144 for nine in 20 overs (R. Samarth 40, K. Vignesh two for 29, T. Natarajan two for 26, Rahil Shah two for 24, M. Ashwin two for 21) lost to Tamil Nadu 145 for six in 19.2 overs (Vijay Shankar 30, Dinesh Karthik 45, M. Ashwin 34 not out, K. Gowtham two for 25). Points: Tamil Nadu 4, Karnataka 0.

Hyderabad 224 for four in 20 overs (Tanmay Agarwal 91, Akshath Reddy 55, S. Badrinath 49) bt Goa 173 for five in 20 overs (Sagun Kamat 50, Saurabh Bandekar 53 not out). Hyderabad 4, Goa 0.

Kerala 175 for seven in 20 overs (Vishnu Vinod 63, Sanju Samson 31) bt Andhra 154 for seven in 20 overs (Ricky Bhui 48, Ravi Teja 33). Kerala 4, Andhra 0.

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