KPL 2017: Mithun magnificence takes Bijapur Bulls to final
Bijapur Bulls have ensured a date with Belagavi Panthers in the final of the Karbonn Smartphones Karnataka Premier League 2017, powered by Cycle Pure Agarbathies, with a four-wicket win over a spirited Namma Shivamogga side at the KSCA Rajnagar Stadium.
Abhimanyu Mithun’s late brilliant unbeaten 12-ball 32 – after he was dropped on nought by Liyan – provided the surge Bijapur needed to cross the line after Shivamogga, after being put in, went about defending their 157 for 5 with gusto.
It means the final of the sixth edition of the tournament will be played between two of the strongest sides in the tournament. As an added treat to the fans, Belagavi will be represented by their brand ambassador, Bollywood superstar Sunil Shetty in the finale on Saturday.
Having done well with the bat, Shivamogga had a right go at Biapur, picking wickets at regular intervals, pinning them back with spirited fielding. They had the openers Bharath Chipli (6), the Bijapur captain, and Mohammed Taha (10) dismissed within the first five overs. Dikshanshu Negi and MG Naveen attempted to rebuild the innings, picking the gaps and putting away the occasional boundary.
They had added a crucial 34 for the third wicket when Naveen (19), starved of a boundary, charged down to Annirudha Joshi and was beaten. Bijapur were 58 for 3, and were dealt a further blow when Negi retired hurt soon after.
In came Sharath, looking to bat Bijapur out of the flux. He lifted sixes off Joshi, Sarafaz Ashraf, the chinaman bowler, and Akhil Balachandra, the captain, in consecutive overs but it was always an adventurous knock and he soon miscued and holed out off Akhil in the 14th. AM Kiran then pummelled Shoaib Manager for three consecutive fours in the 16th over, before being trapped in front. At that point, it seemed as though it was Shivamogga’s day.
However, Bijapur’s luck changed when Mithun was dropped by Liyan in the 17th over. As if to rub salt into Shivamogga’s wounds, he then lifted Ashraf for a massive six. Nidish M, having scored a 20-ball 25, holed out in the 18th over, but with Negi returning and finding the fence, the Bijapur needed a tricky but gettable 27 off the final two overs.
Nerves then seemed to get to Shivamogga. In the penultimate over, Aditya Somanna sent down two wides, Mithun hammered him for a huge six over long on, and there was an overthrow that ended up at the fence. The first three balls yielded 15 runs. A close lbw appeal didn’t go Somanna’s way either, and by the end of the over, Bijapur needed just nine off the final over.
They got that easily, Mithun hitting consecutive fours off Pradeep T.
Earlier, the Shivamogga batsmen got off to a shaky start, barely getting bat to ball. Despite the best efforts of Mithun and Ronit More, however, the first breakthrough eluded Bijapur till Naveen was introduced in the fifth over – he had the struggling Sarfaraz Ashraf (3) trapped in front.
Liyan and Abdul Majid then revived the Shivamogga innings, putting on a 37-run stand that took them past the 50-run mark. They seemed set for the long haul when the breakthrough arrived via Prithvi Shekawat, the left-arm spinner. Joshi (7) didn’t last long, bowled by Naveen for his second, and R Jonathan added 20 with Liyan before the latter fell in the 16th over, having chugged along all the while.
Jonathan himself departed shortly thereafter, having found the fence twice in a 17-ball 21, but that brought together Manager and Akhil. Manager wasted no time. He hammered two sixes and a four off Sharath in the penultimate over, and two more maximums followed off More in the final over to end the innings unbeaten on a 12-ball 36. With Akhil (14 not out) also finding the fence, Shivamogga had a solid total.
It might have been enough on another day.
Brief scores: Namma Shivamogga 157 for 5 in 20 overs (Liyan Khan 45, Shoaib Manager 36*; MG Naveen 2-27) lost to Bijapur Bulls 159 for 6 in 19.4 overs (M Nidesh 25, Abhimanyu Mithun 32*; Akhil Balachandra 2-20) by four wickets.
Man of the Match: Abhimanyu Mithun (Bijapur Bulls)