Gulbarga Mystics raced to a brilliant 28-run victory against Mangalore United in the Maharaja Trophy KSCA T20 cricket tournament at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium here on Friday.
It was an important win for Gulbarga Mystics as it kept them in the hunt for the knockouts stage next week. With their fifth victory from eight matches, the Mystics zoomed to the top with 10 points, the same as Bengaluru Blasters and Mysore Warriors at the end of eight matches for all the six teams in the fray with the top four going into the knockout stage.
The Blasters are on top with a better net run rate followed by the Mystics and the Warriors.
Chasing a stiff target of 165 for victory, the United batsmen found the going tough right from the beginning and the loss of three early wickets by the seventh over made the task all the more daunting.
Abhinav Manohar (51, 34 balls, 4×2, 6×3) kept the United in the chase with a fighting knock, but once he was dismissed off the first ball of the 18th over, the target was beyond the reach of the fragile United tail. A desperate Manohar went after a short and wide delivery from young leg-spinner Kushaal Wadhwani, but only managed to nick it to K. L. Shrijith.
K. Shashi Kumar made a bold attempt to pull off an improbable victory smashing Wadhwani to three successive boundaries of the last three balls of the same over, but that was, as the saying goes, too little too late.
Young Wadhwani was again impressive, finishing with figures of 3-48.
Earlier in the first innings, captain Manish Pandey came good when it mattered the most to steer Gulbarga Mystics to a fighting 164-6. While an all-round performance by CA Karthik who scored a steady 38 off 32 balls and bagged two wickets giving away just nine runs helped seal the game for Mystics.
Coming in to bat when his team was in a bit of a spot at 55 for four in the eighth over, Pandey took time to settle down in a key clash.
More at stake was a place in the playoffs with the winners joining the table toppers Bengaluru Blasters and Mysore Warriors with 10 points each and two matches to go for all the six teams in the fray.
The Mystics began rather shakily losing two early wickets by the fourth over after being put into bat by United. Opener Devdutt Padikkal, who had led his team to a fine victory less than 24 hours ago hitting a fluent 61-ball 78 against the Blasters, was unusually fidgety as the odd ball kept low.
After a charmed life at the crease for a sedate 25 off 22 balls (4×4), the left-handed youngster perished to an arm-ball from K. Shashi Kumar which cramped him up and slipped through to strike the stumps.
Pandey, who will be remembered forever for being the first Indian batsman to score a century in the Indian Premier League (IPL) way back in 2009, found an able partner in Ajit Karthik (38, 32 balls, 4×3, 6×1) and the two added 82 runs for the sixth wicket before the Indian international (58, 48 balls, 4×4, 6×2) perished going for a big hit and getting caught on the long-on fence with the score on 139 and 10 balls to spare.
But Ritesh Bhatkal provided the much-needed pyrotechnics, pulling the first ball he faced over long-on for a six. He hammered one more maximum, flat and hard over deep midwicket off the third ball of the last over and finished off with a flourish — a thick-edged boundary over short third man as Gulbarga finished on a challenging 164 for six.
Gulbarga Mystics 164-6 (Devdutt Padikkal 25, Manish Pandey 58, Ajit Karthik 38*, Ritesh Bhatkal 18*; H.S Sharath 2-43, Vijaykumar Vyshak 2-31) bt Mangalore United 136 all out in 18.4 overs (Abhinav Manohar 51, Sujay Sateri 22; Ajith Karthik 2-9, Pranav Bhatia 2-26, Kushaal Wadhwani 3-48) by 28 runs
Shivamogga Strikers 146-5 (B.R. Sharath 36, Stalin Hoover 38, Siddharth 23, S Chaitanya S 32; V Koushik 2-29) lost to Hubli Tigers 149-2 in 17.2 overs (Luvnith Sisodia 62, B.U. Shiva Kumar 61*) by eight wickets.