Mayank Agarwal did his Twenty20 credentials no harm as he slammed 85* in just 57 balls to help Karnataka clinch their maiden Syed Mushtaq Ali title with a win against Maharashtra on Thursday (March 14). Having not had the best of times in the tournament, Agarwal said that he was happy that he brought out his A-game when it mattered the most.
"I hadn't been getting as many runs during the league stages but I am happy that I made a comeback and got a lot of runs in the knockouts," Agarwal, who was named Man of the Match, said. "Under lights the balls started to come nicely onto the bat and we made full use of it. I am happy that I have got some runs under my belt, and I hope I can take this confidence into the IPL."
Electing to field first, the Karnataka bowlers did well to restrict Maharashtra to 155/4. The batting then came to the fore with Rohan Kadam (60) and Agarwal stitching a crucial 92-run stand for the second wicket to get the chase on track.
"I thought we did extremely well to restrict them to that total," Agarwal said. "The talk in the dressing room is all about winning tournaments and we all as a team try and work hard to win at least one or two tournaments every year. We are happy that we ended on a high."
Manish Pandey, who was named full-time Karnataka captain only this season after Vinay Kumar stepped down, was visibly excited after leading his side to a maiden title. He singled out the performances of Rohan Kadam, who finished the tournament as the highest run-getter, and KC Cariappa while stating that it was a conscious effort from the team management to push more youngsters into the setup.
"If I have to sum up the whole tournament, some of the guys stood up to their reputation and the younger guys have done really well especially Kadam and Cariappa," said Pandey. "A lot of players play the IPL and I don't have to talk to them a lot and it made it easier for me.
"I love to lead a side especially for the boys in Karnataka. I played for Karnataka for a long time now, and I think it was not difficult for me to put that captaincy shoes on. Everyone helped me and glad to be a captain.
"We always have something to learn from all tournaments. What has happened has happened. It was a close game in the Ranji semi finals and we keep looking for the next tournaments and do well as a team. Not only in the T20s, in the Ranji Trophy as well we had a lot of youngsters coming in and they did fairly well. So, I think it was a conscious effort from our side and the management to get the younger guys so that we give them a platform for the coming years to help us win many more tournaments."
A dejected Rahul Tripathi, the Maharashtra captain, said that he thought 155 was a good total on the surface but conceded that his side was defeated by a better unit. Maharashtra did not have a good Ranji Trophy but came back well in the T20 tournament and Tripathi said that was something which pleased him to no end.
"We thought we had a good total, but I think Karnataka batsmen batted well. One or two wickets could have changed the game. We fought and I would congratulate all the team members to have made it to the final," said Tripathi.
"The Ranji trophy did not go well. We made a good comeback in the 20-20. We are playing good white ball cricket and we are performing well. Credit goes to all the boys to put up a good show. I am really happy to lead these guys. They are a great bunch of guys. Winning the trophy would have been the icing on the cake but we played well throughout the tournament and that is what matters."