Suresh Raina replied positively to the urgings of a motley gathering at the DREIMS college by hitting a flurry of sixes and in the process inspired Uttar Pradesh to a five wicket win over Karnataka, in the Group D league match of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy T20 inter state tournament here on Monday.

Joining the side as the captain after missing the first two matches owing to personal reasons, Raina made a strong statement with his aggressive 28 that helped his side easily overhaul the 161-run target set by Karnataka.

Opener Prashant Gupta (48) gave able support as Eklavya Dwivedi (29 not out) put the finishing touch to accomplish the third successive win for UP and establish it firmly on top of the current group league standings.

Maharashtra added more spice to the day’s happening picking up a last-ball win against host Odisha, which had set a mammoth target of 184 runs at Barabati Stadium. Mumbai outclassed Services by eight wickets to return to winning ways after the last-ball loss against Karnataka in the previous round. After the third round’s action, U.P. led the race with 12 points while Mumbai and Maharashtra followed with eight points. Karnataka and Services were in the third spot with four points each while Odisha crashed out suffering three successive loses.

Emerging the most consistent side so far in the group, Uttar Pradesh restricted Karnataka to 160 for six with its bowlers putting up a disciplined show. Young opener Mohammad Taha (45) came up with another good effort and partnered seasoned Robin Uthappa (25) in a 52-run stand for the second wicket to give Karnataka the desired start. C.M. Gautam (24 n.o.) and Anirudh Joshi (20) did well at the later stages to hoist Karnataka’s score to respectability.

Uttar Pradesh began strongly as Gupta and Samarth Singh (22) had a 55-run opening wicket stand. The turning point came in the sixth over when the two clobbered Karnataka left-arm spinner J. Suchith for 17 runs and set the tone of the match. Raina turned hope into assurance with a hurricane 28 (15b, 3x6) where he shared a 40-run partnership with Gupta (45). Dwivedi took it to proper conclusion with an unbeaten 29.

Odisha could not celebrate the maiden T20 century by any of its players as Biplab Samantray’s brilliant 102 (59b, 8x4, 6x6) went in vain as a collective effort from Maharashtra, which rode on the fine batting performances of Chirag Khurana (37), Prayag Bhati (44) and Ankit Bawane (49 n.o.), saw the latter overhauling a stiff ask of 184. Govinda Poddar provided further spark in Odisha’s batting display with a brisk 63 where he hit Shamshuzama Kazi for five sixes in the 16th over. Bawane showed a great finishing ability as he hit a four and a six to take Maharashtra closer to the ask of 15 runs in the final over before he and Srikant Munde ran the remaining runs, the final of which came in the last ball.

Brief scores:

Karnataka 160 for six in 20 overs (Mohammad Taha 45, Robin Uthappa 25; Piyush Chawla two for two for 24) lost to Uttar Pradesh 161 for five in 19.1 overs (Prashant Gupta 48, Suresh Raina 28, Eklavya Dwivedi 29 n.o.)

Odisha 183 for four in 20 overs (Biplab Samantaray 102, Govinda Poddar 63; Anupam Sanklecha two for 23) lost to Maharashtra 184 for six in 20 overs (Chirag Khurana 37, Prayag Bhati 44, Ankit Bawane 49 n.o.) by four wickets.

Services 127 for seven in 20 overs (Rajat Paliwal 26, Yashpal Singh 40 n.o.; Shardul Thakur two for 17, Rohan Raje two for 37) lost to Mumbai 128 for two in 18.1 overs (Akhil Herwadkar 39, Adity Tare 49 n.o.) by eight wickets.