Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy: Karnataka knocked out, Punjab reaches semis

Karnataka, the defending champion, was bundled out for a paltry 87. Punjab had little trouble chasing it down, reaching home with 7.2 overs to spare.

A horror batting show led Karnataka to an embarrassing nine-wicket loss to Punjab in their Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy quarterfinal clash in Ahmedabad on Tuesday.

Karnataka, the defending champion, was bundled out for a paltry 87. Punjab had little trouble chasing it down, reaching home with 7.2 overs to spare.

Poor shot selection brought Karnataka’s swift downfall. Skipper Karun Nair (12) was the first to go, getting a leading edge to mid-off. Much depended on Devdutt Padikkal (11), but the southpaw let the side down with an ugly swipe at fast bowler Siddharth Kaul. A smart catch by Mayank Markande, in the same over, removed Pavan Deshpande for a duck.

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B.R. Sharath (2) and Shreyas Gopal (13) edged deliveries outside off, while J. Suchith (8) glanced one down the leg-side to the wicketkeeper. Aniruddha Joshi (27, 34b, 2x4) hung around, before attempting a wild slog and losing his stumps to spinner Markande.

The Punjab bowling attack stuck to a good line and reaped the rewards. Kaul, who took a hat-trick when the two sides met in the group stage, returned figures of three for 15. Fellow pacers Sandeep Sharma, Arshdeep Singh and Ramandeep Singh took two wickets each. Markande (one for 12) impressed with his control and flight variations.

Punjab overcame a mild stutter when opening batsman Abhishek Sharma’s cut was pouched by Padikkal in the first over. Prabhsimran Singh (49 n.o., 37b, 2x4, 3x6) and captain Mandeep Singh (35 n.o., 33b, 1x4, 1x6) took over, ensuring smooth passage to the semifinal round.

Lean patch

Karun Nair’s troubles with the bat continued, with the Karnataka skipper finishing the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy with only 93 runs in six matches. Nair has endured a long lean patch - his last century across domestic competitions for Karnataka came in the 2017-18 Ranji Trophy semifinal against Vidarbha.

Things were looking up at the start of the 2019-20 season when Karun emerged as the highest run-getter of the Duleep Trophy. But this good form withered when he turned up for the State team.

That Karun regularly takes up captaincy duties when Manish Pandey is unavailable - as he has done in this tournament - only makes his failures more glaring.

Brief Score: Karnataka 87 in 17.2 overs (Siddarth Kaul 3/15) lost to Punjab 89/1 in 12.4 overs (Prabhsimran Singh 49 n.o., Mandeep Singh 35 n.o.).

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