KPL 2017: All-round Hubli seal final semi-final spot
Hubli Tigers became the fourth and final team to seal their semi-final spot in the Karbonn Smartphones Karnataka Premier League 2017, powered by Cycle Pure Agarbathies, after seeing off Ballari Tuskers, the defending champion, by eight runs, courtesy the VJD method.
Hubli had posted Ballari a target of 155, riding on Abhishek Reddy’s 31-ball 46, but a period of rain shortly into the second innings meant the target was revised – Ballari needed 124 runs in 15 overs. They could only manage 115 for 6, with Amit Verma’s 24-ball 26 the highest score in their innings. Abhishek Sakuja was the pick of the Hubli bowlers, returning 2 for 12 in his three overs.
The result meant Hubli finished the league phase at the top of the table, level on eight points with Bijapur Bulls, but with a better net run-rate. Hubli will face Belagavi Panthers in the first semi-final on Wednesday, while Bijapur and Namma Shivamogga will clash in the other semi-final on Friday.
Ballari’s chase got off to a shaky start, with R Vinay Kumar inducing an edge off Devdutt Padikkal in the third over. Then came the rain interruption, after which Amit Verma found the fence thrice in as many overs. Kapoor sealed up the other end as well, and together they chugged away, aided by some fortune – the nicks and edges went their way, and Kunal was dropped on Aman Khan when he was on 19.
After eight overs, Ballari had 58 for 1, needing 66 more runs off 42 balls. It was imperative for Hubli to break this partnership. The fielders were pushed back, with onus on preventing boundaries and building pressure. It worked. Kapoor (21) shimmied down to Sakuja in the ninth over, was beaten and stumped. Verma (26) was then run out, attempting a quick second run as the pressure added up. And Hubli were right back in it.
With five overs remaining, pace was brought back in the form of Vinay. Boundaries were largely restricted till Abhinav Manohar saw a way to the fence – he lap-scooped Vinay for a huge six over fine-leg. In the next over, CM Gautam drove Kranthi Kumar through the covers for four, but the surge was short-lived as Manohar (12) then holed out later that over.
Gautam kept Ballari in the chase, with another six off Kranthi. But the 13th over from Sakuja was exactly what Hubli needed, the left-arm spinner giving away just two runs and getting into Gautam’s (17) head enough to have him caught behind. Rohan Kadam then found the fence off Vinay in the penultimate over, but despite that, Ballari still needed 20 runs off the last over. It proved beyond them.
Put in, Hubli got off to a good start, with Mayank Agarwal, Hubli’s captain on the day, going on the aggressive, putting away anything remotely too wide. With Abhishek Reddy offering valuable company at the other end, Hubli were comfortably placed 51 for no loss at the end of the Power Play.
The two had put on 70 for the opening wicket when Anil IG, the left-arm spinner, forced an error from Agarwal (35) – his attempted slog-sweep lobbed of the top-edge to point. Reddy decided to attack at the point, picking a huge six off Anil (46), but the enterprise came at a price – he missed an attempted slog off Verma in the next over and was bowled.
Swapnil Yelave and Vinay added a steady 29 for the third wicket, before Yelave became Anil’s second wicket. However, with 116 on board after 15 overs, Hubli looked ripe for a late surge. They managed to add just 39 in the last five overs, losing all of Vinay (18), Rohith Gowda (5), and Praveen Dubey (2). But Kranthi Kumar’s 15-ball 29 that helped take the total past the 150-mark.
It was more than enough.
Brief scores: Hubli Tigers 154 for 7 in 20 overs (Abhishek Reddy 46, Mayank Agarwal 35; Zahoor Farooqi 2-29) beat Ballari Tuskers 115 for 6 in 15 overs (Amit Verma 26, Abhishek Sakuja 2-12) by eight runs on the VJD-Method.
Man of the Match: Kranthi Kumar (Hubli Tigers)
20 September: Hubli Tigers v Belagavi Panthers
22 September: Bijapur Bulls v Namma Shivamogga