Vinay Kumar cameo helps Karnataka edge a thriller

Vinay Kumar scored 34 off 13 balls to guide Karnataka to a four-wicket win over Chhattisgarh in the Syed Mushtaq T20.

Vinay Kumar's blitz of 34 off 13 balls, studded with four sixes, helped Karnataka overcome Chhattisgarh in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20.   -  Biswaranjan Rout

Karnataka was stretched only for the second time — it narrowly escaped against Assam  —  in the ongoing Syed Mushtaq T20 tournament but held its nerve to eke out a four-wicket win against Chhattisgarh in Cuttack on Wednesday. 

Vinay Kumar's brilliant counterattacking 34 off 13 balls, studded with four sixes, was aided by cameos from J. Suchith and Abhimanyu Mithun as Karnataka chased down Chhattisgarh's 171 with four balls to spare. 

Unlike in their previous matches, Karnataka openers Mayank Agarwal and Rohan Kadam started cautiously but the scoreboard pressure told when Kadam, in an attempt to break the shackles, offered a simple chance at mid-wicket off Vishal Singh. 

Singh had his second two overs later when Agarwal squandered a start for the third time in a row, getting caught at third-man for 21.

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Aishwary Marya then snapped up in-form Manish Pandey and R. Sharath in the ninth over to leave Karnataka reeling at 57/4.

Karun Nair added 52 with Suchith for the fifth wicket but with Nair being adjudged lbw off Singh, the match swung in Chhattisgarh's favour briefly but Karnataka's lower middle-order had other plans.

Bhatia makes merry 

Earlier, Chhattisgarh chose to bat first under heavy overcast conditions. But the move backfired as Karnataka's new-ball pair of Kumar and Mithun got a good bounce and carry from the Barabati wicket. 

Mithun struck with the second delivery of his first over when opener Shashank Chandrakar gloved the ball to the keeper. 

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Chhattisgarh trudged to 38/1 in the powerplay as Rishabh Tiwari was joined by Harpreet Singh Bhatia in the middle. 

Bhatia collected two boundaries off Nair's over before launching leg-spinner Shreyas Gopal over long-on for a six. Tiwary, too, showed the occasional signs of aggression with a swivelling pull stroke over deep midwicket standing out. 

But just as the 60-run second wicket partnership was gaining momentum, Gopal had Tiwary caught at deep mid-wicket. 

The dismissal put the lid on the scoring with Chhattisgarh reaching the 100-run mark in the 15th over but with wickets in hand, Bhatia switched gears bringing up his 50 off 44 balls. 

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The southpaw smacked eight boundaries and three sixes before holing out and was ably supported by Amandeep Khare, who scored a 31-ball 45, to take the attack to Karnataka. 

The two batsmen put on a 93-run third-wicket stand in 9.4 overs, clobbering the seamers at the death to collect 70 in the last five.

Brief scores: Chhatisgarh 171/3 in 20 overs (Harpreet Bhatia 79, Amandeep Khare 45*, Rishabh Tiwari 33 ) lost to Karnataka 175/6 in 19.2 overs (Karun Nair 35, Vinay Kumar 34*, J Suchith 34).