While the Gulbarga Mystics’ spinners spun a web around the Mysore Warriors batsmen and restricted them to 157-5, star batter Devdutt Padikkal scored a feisty unbeaten 96 from 64 balls to put his team in the Final of the Maharaja Trophy KSCA T20.
His composed innings on Thursday night, included 8 boundaries and 5 sixes and was well-supported by Manoj Bandage who came in at no.5 after their top order crumbled. With Jeswanth Acharya heading back to the dug out with just 4 runs on the board and previous match’s centurion Rohan Patil departing at 1, wicketkeeper-batter Krishan Srijith dismissed with just 9 against his name Gulbarga were left begging for a solid partnership.
Although it gave Gulbarga fans some hope when their captain Manish Pandey came in with their score at 51/3 in 8.2 overs, his early dismissal by Monish Reddy put Padikkal in charge to steer his team to the target. The undaunted youngster steadied the innings, batted with positive intent and rare penchant for the big hits. He brought down the asking rate to 40 of the last 24 deliveries and finally to a par 12 of 12.
In Manoj Bhandage, Padikkal found a perfect foil and the duo added a decisive 80 runs of 49 deliveries for the unbroken fifth wicket to seal a famous victory with the 17th over proving the most profitable.
The duo blasted 19 runs of the luckless Vidyadhar Patil with Padikkal hitting a six and four of successive balls and Bhandage (27, 12 balls, 1 four, 3 six) joining the party with a maximum of his own of the penultimate delivery.
But it was not as simple as that as the Warriors captain played his cards smartly using his spinners with an attacking field in place and holding back his talismanic leg-spinner Shreyas Gopal till the 10th over.
Part time off-spinner Pavan Deshpande did the trick for the Warriors dismissing Rohan Patil in his first over and then getting rid of Krishnan Shrijith to reduce the Warriors to 51 for three by the ninth over.
But that proved a false hope as Padikkal had his own plans and methods for the occasion and masterminded a brilliant victory with a masterclass performance.
Earlier in the match, Gulbarga’s trio of spinners Ritesh Bhatkal (0-26), left-arm spinner Pranav Bhatia (1-18) and young leg-spinner Kushaal Wadhwani (2-17) combined their wide and varied skills cleverly and complimented each other either restricting the batsmen or providing the vital through.
The three bowled 12 of the 20 overs and conceded just 61 of the 157 runs the Warriors could muster. The two medium pacers Vidwath Kaverappa (2-52) and Abhilash Shetty (0-42), by contrast, proved ineffective and expensive conceding 94 in their combined eight overs.
Wadhwani, who bowled eight dot balls and not a single no-ball or wide, made the best impression with his disciplined line and deceptive control over his length which helped him dismiss a well-set Nair and the dangerous Shreyas Gopal at crucial junctures to inflict the maximum damage.
The Warriors’ key batters Karun Nair (42, 32 balls, 4 fours, 1 six) and Pavan Deshpande (38, 42 balls, 3 fours) were again the mainstay after the early exit of Nihal Ullal.
But Nair once again flattered to deceive while looking to break loose while Deshpande, who crossed the 400-run mark in his 11th innings, was unusually restrained and indecisive.
That only 47 runs came off the six-over power play and 56 of the last five are indicative of their lack of firepower right through the innings.
The Warriors could have had even a lesser total to defend if not for a 12-ball 27 (1 four, 3 six) by Naga Bharath at the end of the innings.