Karnataka staved off a defiant challenge from Vidarbha to enter the final of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2021-22. Defending a total of 176 in the second semi-final at the Arun Jaitley Stadium in Delhi, Karnataka held on for a four-run win against a stubborn Vidarbha.
Chasing 177 to reach the final, several Vidarbha batters made key contributions. But they kept losing wickets at regular intervals, which cost them in the end. Atharwa Taide (32 off 16) and Ganesh Satish (31 off 27) added 43 for the opening wicket in five overs.
Taide got the chase off to a blazing start, smashing MB Darshan for two fours and a six in the first over. The boundaries kept flowing after that until Taide was caught at long-on off a short ball from KC Cariappa. Karnataka skipper Manish Pandey did a good juggling act on the boundary to complete a crucial catch.
Satish picked up his scoring rate following Taide’s dismissal, but perished to J Suchith at the start of the ninth over. The Vidarbha opener lofted a tossed-up delivery down the throat of long-off. Suchith could have had Akshay Wadkar in the same over, but Vidyadhar Patil palmed a ball over the long-off ropes. At 81 for 2 at the halfway stage, Vidarbha were in the hunt, though Karnataka had the upper hand.
The 11th over began with the same fielder dropping a catch off the same bowler. Only this time, the batter was different - Shubham Dubey. Having had a lucky escape, Dubey clattered a frustrated Suchith for a maximum over wide long-on. Karun Nair gave Karnataka some much-needed relief, cleaning up Wadkar (15) as the batter missed his slog. Dubey (24) perished soon after to Cariappa, nicking a floated delivery, as Karnataka wrested back the initiative.
With 42 needed from the last three, the game seemed to beyond Vidarbha’s reach. However, Akshay Karnewar and Apoorv Wankhade hit a six each off Darshan MB in the 18th over. The penultimate over began with Karnewar thumping Vijaykumar Vyshak for a maximum over mid-wicket and ended with Wankhade whacking a full toss over the bowler’s head for four.
With 14 needed to win off the last over, Karnewar (22 off 12) chipped a drive off Vidyadhar Patil to extra cover, where the fielder held on to a catch on the second attempt. Patil held his nerve as Karnataka kept Vidarbha to 172 for 6, joining Tamil Nadu in the final.
Darshan Nalkande claims four in four but Karnataka post 176 as Rohan Kadam slams 87
Opener Rohan Kadam smashed 87 in 56 balls and featured in an opening stand of 132 with Manish Pandey (54 off 42) as Karnataka posted 176 for 7 in the second semi-final after being sent into bat. Vidarbha pacer Darshan Nalkande claimed four wickets off four balls in the last over to keep Karnataka under 180.
Vidarbha could have had Kadam in the first over itself. However, the keeper grassed an outside edge off Nalkande’s bowling. The miss was to prove extremely costly as Kadam went on to punish Vidarbha's bowlers. He slammed seven fours and four sixes as Karnataka took control of the innings. At the other end, Pandey struck two fours and three sixes in his half-century.
Kadam was severe on Lalit Yadav, slamming him for three fours in the fourth over. In the next over, Pandey clubbed Yash Thakur for a four and a six as Karnataka dominated proceedings. Kadam brought up his fifty in the 11th over with a single off Atharva Taide. Even as Pandey was content rotating the strike, Kadam raised the 100-run stand in style in the 13th over, pulling a short ball from Akshay Karnewar over deep mid-wicket for a maximum.
With all 10 wickets in hand, Kadam went berserk, slamming three sixes in the next two overs. Two of them came off Akshay Wakhare’s bowling and one off Yash Thakur. He seemed set for a hundred but perished for 87, pulling a short ball from Lalit Yadav to deep square leg. Pandey reached his fifty off the first ball of the 18th over, swatting a low full toss from Lalit Yadav to fine leg for four. However, he fell in the same over, looking for quick runs.
Abhinav Manohar threw his bat around and added some crucial runs before Nalkande gave Vidarbha more joy in the last over, claiming four wickets in as many balls. Aniruddha Joshi (1) was caught off a pull, Sharath BR (0) miscued a scoop, Jagadeesha Suchith (0) pulled a slower ball to deep square while Manohar (27 off 13) offered an easy catch to cover.
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The late collapse nearly hurt Karnataka but they hung on as Vidarbha never took complete control of the chase.