Hubli Tigers maul Bengaluru Blasters
Sports

Hubli Tigers maul Bengaluru Blasters

Mysuru: Hubli Tigers was made to sweat for their second win of the Karbonn Smartphones Karnataka Premier League 2017, powered by Cycle Pure Agarbathies, after Bengaluru Blasters, led by Abhishek Bhat’s brilliant 5 for 20, put up a determined defence of their 102 for 8 at the SDNR Wadiyar Stadium in Mysuru, yesterday. Eventually, Hubli crossed the line in 19.1 overs, finishing at 103 for 8 for a two-wicket win.

The only consolation for Bhat was that he became the first bowler in this edition to claim the purple cap. Hubli made the perfect start as R. Vinay Kumar, the captain, got Rajoo Bhatkal to poke at an out-swinger off just the third ball of the match. Two overs later, Bengaluru’s second wicket fell with the 17-year-old Nikin Jose (7) miscuing a slog to backward point. Abishek Sakuja, the left-arm spinner, was introduced in the next over, and he promptly bagged the third wicket of the afternoon, M. Vishwanathan (2) only finding air with a cross-batted swat.

The crucial duo of Shishir Bhavane and Pavan Deshpande got together, aware of the pressing need for a partnership. The ball wasn’t really coming onto the bat, and the batsmen needed to go after the bowlers to make things happen. To that end, Bhavane (4) charged Ritesh Bhatkal, the off-spinner, hoping to clear long-on, but found more height than distance. Bengaluru were 29 for 4.

The Hubli spinners – Praveen Dubey and Sakuja – were particularly threatening, and runs were hard to come by. However, when he could, Deshpande (25 off 28) came down the track, and at one point used his big arms to heave Sakuja over long-on. Motivated, he attempted another big hit later in the over, but this time it ended up down the fielder’s throat.

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The wickets kept coming. S Sharath (1) attempted a prod, lost sight of the ball and stepped out of his crease for a run, by which time the ‘keeper Anurag Bajpai had smartly broken the stumps. Then, Aman Khan had Abishek Bhat bowled through the gates.

Manjesh Reddy used the sweeps and the laps to good effect to pick a couple of boundaries at fine leg, and also cracked a drive through covers off Aman, looking to inspire a Bengaluru fightback. The enterprise proved costly though as Manjesh holed out for a 33-ball 30 off Sakuja. Off the final ball of the innings, Prasidh Krishna managed a big heave over the fence to take the total past the 100-mark.

Bengaluru’s total might have been low, but they showed they had the bowlers to defend it. Mayank Agarwal and Bajpai seemed well set, having added 16 runs within the first two overs, but there was a flurry of wickets when Bajpai (6) went after a full-and-wide delivery from Prasidh and was caught at point. V Koushik, the medium-pacer, then had Aman trapped in front with a shapely delivery.

Bhat then picked consecutive wickets with his medium-pace. The big fish, Mayank (10), was the first to fall, throwing his arms at a wide delivery only to be caught at point. Bhat then greeted K Siddharth with one that nipped in on the stumps. When Koushik had Abhishek Reddy following suit shortly thereafter, Hubli were reduced to 34 for 5. It was game on.

Vinay Kumar and Dubey found themselves in the middle, the team were desperate for a partnership. They manufactured one. They happily defended the good deliveries, knowing the target was still attainable. And their running between wickets was determined.

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Slowly, they drained the momentum Bengaluru had mustered from those wickets, and with six overs to go, they needed just 25 runs more.

At this stage, patience was key, for both teams. Bhat had been incredibly patient, and his reward came soon enough – he had probed outside off to Vinay constantly before eventually nipping one to have him bowled for a 34-ball 28. It was his third wicket. The 45-run stand was broken, and Bengaluru had a foothold again.

Remarkably, Bengaluru hung in there. Dubey and Kranthi Kumar added 20 runs to take Hubli to the brink, but then came a period in which Hubli’s nerves and Bengaluru’s determination came to the forefront. Bhat was brilliant. He had both Kranthi Kumar and Ritesh Bhatkal dismissed in the 18th over to kindle hopes of an unlikely Bengaluru victory. And even after Hubli tied scores, they were made to sweat till eventually, Dubey flicked through mid-on for the winning run. Despite that, Bengaluru’s efforts ensured both teams walked off the field with smiles.

Brief scores: Bengaluru Blasters 102 for 8 in 20 overs (Pavan Deshpande 28, Manjesh Reddy 30; Abhishek Sakuja 3-20, Aman Khan 2-12) lost to Hubli Tigers 103 for 8 in 19.1 overs (Vinay Kumar 28, Praveen Dubey 32 not out; Abhishek Bhat 5-20, V. Koushik 2-17).

Today’s Match

Namma Shivamogga Vs Bijapur Bulls

Venue: SDNR Wadiyar Stadium, Manasagangothri, Mysuru.

Tomorrow’s Matches

Belagavi Panthers Vs Bengaluru Blasters, 3 pm

Hubli Tigers Vs Namma Shivamogga, 7 pm

Venue: SDNR Wadiyar Stadium, Manasagangothri, Mysuru.

CATCH THE LIVE ACTION ON STAR SPORTS

September 7, 2017

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