Shahrukh Khan's last-ball six helps Tamil Nadu beat Karnataka in Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy final

TN, in spoiling Karnataka’s unbeaten record in title-clashes of white-ball tournaments, became the first team to win the championship three times.

A jubilant Tamil Nadu team with the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.   -  TNCA

Towards the end, even as Tamil Nadu was fast losing the plot, Shahrukh Khan stood between Karnataka and the glittering Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.

When TN needed 16 runs off Prateek Jain’s final over and just five off the last ball, Shahrukh (33 not out, 15b, 1x4, 3x6) was the man Karnataka was wary of.

Indeed, Shahrukh rose to the occasion. Prateek erred in line and Shahrukh cleared his left foot and sent the final ball soaring into the stands behind square-leg.

AS IT HAPPENED

Even as the ball began its flight, Shahrukh made a triumphant sprint towards the dugout and met his charging teammates inside the ropes. Another glorious chapter was added to the legacy of the TN-Karnataka on-field rivalry.

The sight of a joyous Shahrukh was in sharp contrast to Prateek. The medium pacer, who bowled two crucial wides in the last over, had followed the flight of the title-deciding stroke before burying his head in both hands in despair.

TN, in spoiling Karnataka’s unbeaten record in title-clashes of white-ball tournaments, became the first team to win the championship three times.

To Karnataka’s credit, it fought valiantly to reach 152. Top-order batters Rohan Kadam, Manish Pandey and Karun Nair lost their off-stumps to the left-arm spin of Sai Kishore (3/12) and Sanjay Yadav in the PowerPlay. But Abhinav Manohar (46, 37b, 4x4, 2x6) began the repair work with B. R Sharath before Praveen Dubey (33, 25b, 3x4, 1x6) and J. Suchith provided a late charge. Surprisingly, TN’s Saravana Kumar, who took five wickets in the semifinal, was kept out of the final.

READ: Syed Mushtaq Ali – the man who made cricket delightful

If TN fell back in its chase, the reason was the lack of urgency from the third-wicket pair of N. Jagadeesan and skipper Vijay Shankar against spinners Suchith, K. C. Cariappa and Praveen Dubey. For 49 deliveries, between the 5th and the 13th overs, the boundaries dried up.

Amid rising desperation, Vijay Shankar and Jagadeesan fell to Cariappa in succession after failing to clear long off. This brought in Shahrukh and soon, TN needed 55 off 24 balls.

Once M. B. Darshan went for 19 runs, Prateek conceded just six and Vidyadhar Patil 8 off five deliveries, TN needed 22 off 7.

Undeterred, Shahrukh smashed a straight six to leave 16 off the last over.

A first-ball boundary from Sai Kishore, two wides and a tight second run later, came Shahrukh’s masterstroke.

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