Unbeaten Karnataka marches into Mushtaq Ali final, to meet Maharashtra

The only team from South Zone to qualify for the Super league, Karnataka scored its eleventh straight win and and it will clash with Maharashtra in the final at the Holkar Stadium in Indore on Thursday.

A file photo of Karnataka's Rohan Kadam in action. Kadam starred in Karnataka's win over Vidarbha in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament.   -  Biswaranjan Rout

Karnataka has had an extraordinary run so far in the ongoing Inter-State Twenty20 Syed Mushtaq Ali Tournament.

The only team from South Zone to qualify for the Super league, Karnataka scored its eleventh straight win and and it will clash with Maharashtra in the final at the Holkar Stadium in Indore on Thursday.

Equipped with a balanced seam and spin attack and a dependable batting depth, Karnataka got the better of Vidarbha by six wickets at the Emerald Heights International Cricket Ground on Tuesday. It finished the Super League with 16 points.

There was the hypothesis of a three-way tie in Group 'B' Super League emerging between the best team in the tournament, Karnataka, Mumbai and the Ranji Trophy and Zal Irani Cup winner, Vidarbha. But after Mumbai posted the Super League's high score of 183 and scored an easy win against Uttar Pradesh at the Emerald venue, Manish Pandey (49 not out, 35b,  3x4s, 2x6s) led his team to a decisive win.

As it happened

Karnataka chose to field and restricted Vidarbha with R. Vinay Kumar striking early blows. The two-time national champion, Vidarbha was tottering at 46/5 in the tenth over, when Apoorv Wankhade (56 not out, 41b, 3x4s, 3x6s) found a partner in Akshay Karnewar to pull his team to a respectable total.

Chasing a target that was a fraction under seven runs an over, Karnataka lost opener B.R.Sharath in the third over and Mayank Agarwal in the sixth, but Rohan Kadam, the second highest scorer in the tournament, Karun Nair and Pandey together hit 15 big shots to swing the match in their favour.

Maharashtra had already confirmed its entry into the final with three wins, but on Tuesday it scored its fourth, against Railways and ended the Group 'A' with 16 points. The team coached by former national selector, Surendhra Bhave, lost its openers Ruturaj Gaikwad and Rahul Tripathi well inside the power player overs, but Nikhil Naik went hammer and tongs at the Railways attack and scored a 58-ball unbeaten 95 with four 4s and eight 6s.

Naik and Naushad Shaikh (59, 39b,6 x 4s, 2 x 6s) put on 119 run for the third wicket of  81 balls.

After Maharashtra showed its batting strength, its bowling combination in seamers Samad Fallah and Divyang Hinganeskar and spinners Satyajeet Bachhav and Shaikh caused a Railways collapse after its openers Mrunal Devdhar and Pratham Singh raised 68 for the first wicket in 7.1 overs.

Brief scores

Group A: Maharastra 177 for 5 in 20 overs (Nikhil Naik 95 not out, Naushad Shaikh 59, Manjeet Chaudhary three for 36) bt Railways 156 in 20 overs (Mrunal Devdhar 55, Pratham Singh 29, Gandhar Bhatawadekar 25, Samad Fallah three for 37, Satyajeet Bachhav two for 22, Divyan Hinganekar two for 26, Naushad Shaikh two for eight)

Gujarat 121 (Axar Patel 53, Sayan Ghosh 5/15) lost to Bengal 125/3 in 18.2 overs (Wriddhiman Saha 53*, Vivek Singh 28*)

Group B: Mumbai 183 for 7 in 20 overs (Eknath Kerkar 46, Siddhesh Lad 62, Shreyas Iyer 43, Ankit Rajpoot three for 47) bt Uttar Pradesh 137 in 19 overs (Shardul Thakur three for 15, Shivam Dube three for 31, Siddhesh Lad three for 23)

Vidarbha 138 for 7 in 20 overs (Apoorv Wankhade 56 not out, Akshay Karnewar 33, Atharva Taide 28, R. Vinay Kumar two for 27) lost to Karnataka 140 for four in 19.2 overs (Rohan Kadam 39, Manish Pandey 49 not out)

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