Siddharth, bowlers script Hubli victory

Hubli Tigers defeated Belagavi Panthers by six wickets in the opening match of the Karnataka Premier League.

K. V. Siddharth en route to his match-winning knock on Saturday.   -  Sampath Kumar G. P.

A fine half-century from K.V. Siddharth propelled Hubli Tigers to a comfortable six-wicket win over Belagavi Panthers as the sixth edition of the Karnataka Premier League got under way at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium here on Friday. After a collective bowling effort had helped restrict the opponent to 127, Hubli crossed the line with 13 balls to spare, Siddharth smashing an unbeaten 61 (51b, 4x4, 2x6).

The run chase got off to a shaky start after Stuart Binny had Anurag Bajpai edge behind in the second over. The veteran S. Arvind, captain of Belagavi, got rid of Abhishek Reddy before K. Gowtham, fresh off his tour of South Africa with India-A, scalped the dangerous Mayank Agarwal to reduce Hubli to 45 for three.

Siddharth steadied the ship, however, as he and skipper R. Vinay Kumar added 54 runs for the fourth wicket. Siddharth signaled his intentions early on with a huge six over extra cover off Stalin Hoover. Young Shubhang Hegde was swatted through the covers before the 24-year-old sent the left-arm spin of Anand Doddamani sailing over the sight-screen. A moment later, Siddharth raised his half-century (42 balls); he had done his job flawlessly.

Rescue act by Jain

Earlier, Hubli inserted Belagavi in to bat after winning the toss. Vinay Kumar claimed the tournament's first wicket, trapping B. R. Sharath in front in the opening over. Big-hitting Gowtham was promoted up the order and had an instant impact. After being dropped on two, the all-rounder hammered 10 runs off David Mathias, with a clean six over long off. He fell next ball, however, out leg-before to the same bowler. K.N. Bharath was run out after a promising start while Binny, on whom much rested, departed after offering a return catch to Ritesh Bhatkal.

At 79 for five, Belagavi was wobbling. It took a composed innings from Sunil Kumar Jain, who remained unbeaten on 39 (34b, 5x4, 1x6), to lead the side past 120 and give the bowlers something to defend. But even that would prove inadequate.

The scores:

Belagavi Panthers 127 for eight in 20 overs (Sunil Kumar Jain 39 n.o., Abhishek Sakuja two for 11, Ritesh Bhatkal two for 12; R. Vinay Kumar two for 19) lost to Hubli Tigers 128 for four in 17.5 overs (K.V. Siddharth 61 n.o., Stuart Binny two for 25).

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