Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy: Karnataka hold their nerve against Tamil Nadu to retain their crown
After being put into bat, Karnataka got off to a blistering start with Devdutt Padikkal and KL Rahul imposing themselves in the opening exchanges. However, Ravichandran Ashwin set the cat among their pigeons in the 5th over when he got rid of Rahul and Mayank Agarwal off consecutive deliveries.
Karnataka skipper, Manish Pandey, who came in to bat at No.4, kept the scoreboard ticking and he was ably supported by Padikkal before the latter perished in the 10th over.
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Thereafter, Rohan Kadam stitched together a vital 65-run stand with his captain, thereby catapulting the defending champions to a total of 180, although they were aided by Karun Nair’s pyrotechnics in the final couple of overs.
For Tamil Nadu, Murugan Ashwin too snared a couple of wickets whereas Washington Sundar bagged the other.
In reply, the 2019 Vijay Hazare Trophy finalists rattled away to 26 in the first 2.5 overs before Ronit More got the better of Hari Nishanth. A couple of overs later, Shahrukh Khan was sent packing by Shreyas Gopal as Tamil Nadu found themselves in a spot of bother.
However, Dinesh Karthik and Washington ensured that they didn’t fall too far behind the required run rate as they kept finding the occasional boundary. Karnataka though, staked their claim in a 2-over spell between the 9th and the 10th over when they dismissed Karthik and Washington.
Baba Aparajith and Vijay Shankar then mounted a superb rear-guard action, putting on 71 runs for the 5th wicket before the former holed out to Manish Pandey off More in the 18th over.
Shankar, meanwhile, continued on his merry way as he caressed a boundary through the cover region in the penultimate over to leave Tamil Nadu needing 13 runs off the final six deliveries.
Gowtham was entrusted with the responsibility and he came up trumps, despite conceding a pair of fours off the first couple of deliveries to R Ashwin.
With 4 required off 2 balls, Shankar hit the ball towards long on where Pandey gathered the ball and rifled in a throw at the batsman’s end, thereby catching the all-rounder short as he attempted to complete a brace.
M Ashwin faced the final delivery and Gowtham nailed an inch-perfect yorker to bamboozle the batsman and script a dramatic 1-run victory.
The triumph meant that Karnataka completed the white-ball domestic double, courtesy their success in this year’s Vijay Hazare edition too. Incidentally though, on both occasions, they outwitted Tamil Nadu in the final.