A rejuvenated Mysore Warriors ended the brave run of the Hubli Tigers by five wickets in the eliminator of the Maharaja Trophy T20 Tournament on Tuesday.
Chasing a stiff 165 for a place in the Qualifier 2 to be played on Thursday, the Warriors stayed focused right through and kept the asking rate under control to eventually breeze to an easy victory. But not before a late hiccup when they lost three wickets in the 19th over with victory in sight — nine runs of the last 12 balls.
Openers Nihal Ullal and captain Karun Nair added 52 runs for the opening wicket as the Warriors slammed 54 runs in the six-over power-play, compared to the Tigers’ 56-0 in the same period.
It was a good platform nevertheless to step on the accelerator later in the innings. And they did just that in the 15th over as Shreyas Gopal and Ullal blasted 24 overs of M.G Naveen (2, NB6, 6, 1, 1, 1, 6) to reduce a demanding target to an easily doable 34 of the last 30 balls.
Gopal, who had earlier claimed 3-33 to become the highest wicket-taker with 16 scalps from 11 matches, batted with his customary flair and freedom, punishing anything dropped short or wide while Ullal (77*, 58 balls, 6 fours, 3 sixes), who completed his maiden half-century, was more calculative and aggressive.
The duo came together at 94 for two after Nair (23, 14 balls, 4 fours) fell for a loose shot with two more balls left in the power play and Pavan Deshpande (24, 20 balls, 2 fours) departed in the 12th over just when he looked set for another big knock and stay at the top in the batters list.
His 24, however, took him to 396 runs from 11 matches, but not enough to hold on to the top spot while the Tigers captain Luvnith Sisodia, who with a fine 33 earlier in the day moved to the top with 401 of the same number of matches.
Needing nine of the last two overs, the Warriors almost imploded losing three wickets of the first four balls of the 19th over, including that of Gopal, caught in the deep of Anand Doddamani, who was on a hat-trick and eventually finished with flattering figures of 4-27.
But Naga Bharath hit a six off the fifth ball to settle the nerves and reduce the margin to three of the last over; and deservingly Ullal struck the winning runs, a boundary of the first ball of the last over.
Earlier, the Tigers, playing their third match in three days including a thrilling do-or-die clash to beat Mangaluru United and book the fourth and last playoff spot on Monday night, looked set for a big total after being put into bat.
Captain Sisodia (33, 24 balls, 4 fours, 1 six) and Mohammed Saha (27, 18 balls, 2 four, 2 six) carried on from they had left off on Monday night as the Tigers were back on the prowl adding 56 runs in the power-play compared to the 80 in the same period less than 24 hours ago.
But once the openers and No. 3 B.U Shiva Kumar (6, 4 balls, 1 four) fell by the ninth over, the Tigers had lost much of the momentum.
Though Swapnil Yelave (30, 25 balls, 4 fours) and M G Naveen (32, 24 balls, 2 fours, 2 sixes) added 53 runs for the sixth wicket and Abhimanyu Mithun contributed a quick-fire 15-ball 19 (1 six), it only boosted the total to 164 which eventually proved at least 25 runs short.
Brief scores: Hubli Tigers 164-7 (Luvnith Sisodia 33, Mohammed Taha 27, Swapnil Yelave 30, MG Naveen 32, Abhimanyu Mithun 19; Shreyas Gopal 3-33, Shubhang Hegde 2-20) lost to Mysore Warriors 165-5 in 19.1 overs (Nihal Ullal 77, Karun Nair 23, Pavan Deshpande 24, Shreyas Gopal 32; Anand Doddamani 4-27).