Karnataka began its Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy campaign on a winning note, edging Mumbai by nine runs in a heavyweight Elite Group B clash at the ACA Stadium here on Thursday.

Chasing 166, Mumbai seemed well-placed at 125 for two with a little less than five overs left. But offie K. Gowtham dismissed a set Siddhesh lad for 32, before fellow tweaker K.C. Cariappa (3/26) sent back skipper Ajinkya Rahane and the big-hitting Shivam Dube off back-to-back deliveries.

Debutant all-rounder Vidyadhar Patil, bowling the 18th over, excised Aman Khan to leave Mumbai struggling at 130 for six. With 34 needed from 12 balls, left-arm seamer Prateek Jain and pace leader Prasidh Krishna ensured that Mumbai would have no way back into the match.

Rahane, who didn’t get single game for Delhi Capitals in the second leg of the IPL in UAE, played a blinder (75, 54b, 6x4, 3x6) and nearly carried his team home in the company of Lad. The 81-run partnership for the third wicket came off just 53 balls, but it was not to be.

Earlier, Karnataka, asked to bat first, rode on the exploits of captain Manish Pandey (84, 64b, 7x4, 2x6) and Karun Nair (72, 53b, 6x4, 2x6).

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Runs from Nair, will in particular, bring a big cheer for Karnataka, for the premier batter has been in wretched form for almost two seasons now. The 29-year-old didn’t get a single game in Kolkata Knight Riders’ run to the IPL 2021 final and the knock against Mumbai will feel like oxygen.

There were welcome runs for Pandey too, after an indifferent IPL with the under-performing Sunrisers Hyderabad. The duo came together after Mayank Agarwal was out first ball and fellow opener Devdutt Padikkal made just five.

The seasoned Pandey and Nair answered their team’s distress call with a fine 149-run partnership for the third wicket. While Pandey scored at his usual brisk pace, Karun took 43 balls to reach 50, before exploding.

The duo perished in the last over, looking for the end-overs flourish. But it didn’t hurt the two-time domestic T20 champion.

Elsewhere, Services defeated Baroda in a last-ball finish, with Diwesh Pathania making an unbeaten 41 and helping Services chase down the 125-run target with two wickets to spare.

In the final match of the group, Sudip Chatterjee’s half-century (51 n.o.) carried Bengal to an easy seven-wicket win over Chhattisgarh.