KPL 2017: Mohammed Taha blitzkrieg takes Bijapur to second straight victory
Bijapur Bulls won their second consecutive game in the Karbonn Smartphones Karnataka Premier League 2017, powered by Cycle Pure Agarbathies, on Sunday (10 September), seeing off table-toppers Hubli Tigers by four wickets at the S.D.N.R Wadiyar ground in Mysuru. Mohammed Taha was the star of the show, his show-stopping 45-ball 83 ensuring Bijapur didn’t feel the effects of Abhishek Sakuja’s excellent returns of 4 for 21.
Taha’s efforts ensured that Hubli’s 159 for 8 was toppled in 18.4 overs. The win snapped Hubli’s unbeaten run in the tournament.
Taha was at his free-scoring best even as Sakuja, the left-arm spinner, ran through the rest of the Bijapur top-order. The wickets meant Bijapur’s chase got off to a difficult start, with Sakuja sending back Bharath Chipli, Dikshanshu Negi (2) and Naveen MG (12) to reduce Bijapur to 37 for 3. Sakuja had both Chipli and Negi trapped in front within three deliveries of each other, and then had Naveen stumped, spotting the batsman’s charge down the ground and dropping it short.
All the while, Taha just kept pummelling the ball. His intentions were made clear in the very first over as he picked 15 runs off Vinay Kumar. He followed that up with big hits off Sakuja, Praveen Dubey and Kranthi Kumar, ensuring Bijapur were always in the chase despite the early slide.
Taha brought up his half-century off just 27 balls. He continued fearlessly taking on the bowlers, confident in his ability to take the aerial route over the fielders. So much so that he found it easier to hit sixes than fours. He displayed excellent power, but also fine technique to score on both sides of the wicket with all manners of shots. M Nidish, meanwhile, provided able support, rotating strike and chipping away with the singles.
By the 15-over mark, Taha had hammered his ninth six. His big hits ensured Bijapur needed less than a run-a-ball at that point. However, with the need of the hour being composure, Taha holed out off Sakuja, the bowler claiming his fourth wicket. The momentum shifted right back to Hubli.
However, AM Kiran, the new man, showed no sign of jitters. Nidhish and Kiran ensured the scoreboard kept moving, and when Dubey, the leg-spinner, came on to bowl the 18th over, Kiran launched him down the ground to leave Bijapur needing just ten runs off the last two overs.
Nidhish (29 off 33) looked to finish things off quickly with a slog off Aman, only to find more height than distance. Bijapur then crossed the line without any jitters.
Earlier, Hubli, after being asked to bat, lost Anurag Bajpai (8) and the dangerous Abhishek Reddy in quick succession to the pace duo of Ronit More and Abhimanyu Mithun respectively. Mayank Agarwal, however, had ensured the scoreboard didn’t suffer, finding the fence a few times, particularly off Mithun.
With K Siddharth for company, Agarwal picked the gaps and rotated strike, their 37-run stand taking Hubli past the 50-run mark.
The stand was broken when Agarwal (33 off 26), looking to attack the excellent KC Cariappa, holed out straight to deep mid-wicket. Siddharth then took charge while the debutant, Swapnil Yelave, settled in and ensured the scoreboard kept ticking, although Cariappa ensured no free runs were given in the middle overs with a fine spell. Yelave didn’t take long to find his feet though, picking boundaries off Prithvi Shekawat, the left-arm spinner, and even Cariappa.
Siddharth looked to change gears and attack in the 14th over, even coming down the track to hoist Shekawat down the ground. However, a repeat attempt resulted in his downfall as he popped a simple catch to long-on after scoring a 31-ball 34. The wicket saw Hubli encounter a slide. Yelave (23 off 20) holed out in the next over off MG Naveen and R Vinay Kumar, the captain, was sent back for a 9-ball 13, Naveen claiming his second scalp.
The onus to boost the total at the death was placed on Kranthi Kumar and Dubey. The youngsters didn’t disappoint. Kranthi was particularly aggressive, lifting sixes off both More and Mithun. Dubey did his bit as well, fetching More for a maximum, and though both fell in the final over looking to attack, their big-hits had helped Hubli post a challenging target.
Brief scores: Hubli Tigers 159 for 8 in 20 overs (Mayank Agarwal 33, K Siddharth 34; Ronit More 2-37, MG Naveen 2-13) lost to Bijapur Bulls (Mohammed Taha 83, M Nidhish 29; Abhishek Sakuja 4-21) by four wickets.
Man of the Match: Mohammed Taha (Bijapur Bulls)