Hyderabad produced a stirring bowling performance in the last seven overs to defend a modest score of 126, defeating Kerala by five runs in the Syed Mushtaq Ali South Zone T20 tournament.

The win has taken Hyderabad to the top of the table with three wins in as many matches at a healthy net run-rate.

Full Scorecard: Hyderabad v Kerala

Full Scorecard: Karnataka v Andhra

Chasing 127, Kerala was in a comfortable position at 99 for one after 16 overs before pacers C.V. Milind, Mohammed Siraj and Ravi Kiran displayed some excellent death bowling skills to choke Kerala.

Siraj, in particular, was impressive as he picked up two wickets in his final two overs giving away just 12 runs.

Losing wickets regularly

Opting to bat, Hyderabad never really got going and kept losing wickets at regular intervals. Jalaj Saxena struck in the first over when he had Akshath Reddy stumped with a smart piece of bowling, dropping it short after being given the charge, and Sandeep Warrier snared Tanmay Agarwal in the second over.

Even as skipper S. Badrinath kept scoring at a-run-a-ball, he lacked support from the other end with B. Anirudh and B. Sandeep dismissed by off-spinner Fabid Ahmed.

Ahmed then accounted for Badrinath’s wicket too — caught at long-on — and Hyderabad was reduced to 64 for five before Sumanth Kolla (46 n.o., 37b) and Mehdi Hasan were involved in a 45-run partnership to set a modest target.

Flying start

Kerala was off to a flying start with Vishnu Vinod and Jalaj having it easy. Vinod, in particular, was aggressive as he raced to 37 with two sixes and three boundaries as the duo put on 60 runs for the first wicket before Vinod was caught and bowled by left-arm spinner Hasan.

Sanju Samson joined Saxena and the two had things under control at the end of the 13th over with the score reading 87 for one after a 13-run over from Siraj.

Hyderabad skipper brought back leg-spinner Akash Bhandari and that proved to be the game-changer as he finished with figures of one for 17 from his four overs, including the crucial wicket of the well-set Jalaj.

In fact, his second spell of two overs costed him just eight runs with the wicket of Jalaj.

Samson threw his wicket away in the very next over, going for a wild swing off medium-pacer Milind only to feather it to the wicketkeeper. On a wicket that was on the slower side, the dismissal of two set batsmen triggered Kerala’s collapse.

The scores:

Hyderabad 126 for eight in 20 overs (S. Badrinath 29, Mehdi Hasan 25, K. Sumanth 46 n.o., Fabid Ahmed three for 19, C.V. Vinod Kumar two for 11) bt Kerala 121 for seven in 20 overs (Vishnu Vinod 37, Jalaj Saxena 34, Sanju Samson 27, Md. Siraj two for 30). Points: Hyderabad 4 (12); Kerala 0 (4).

Karnataka 177 for eight in 20 overs (Mayank Agarwal 46, Pavan Deshpande 51, D. Swaroop Kumar two for 18, C.H. Stephen two for 40, B. Ayyappa two for 28) bt Andhra 140 for six in 20 overs (G.H. Vihari 55, J. Suchith two for 30). Karnataka 4 (8); Andhra 0 (4).