Mysuru, September 5: Spin was the clear king in the first KPL 2018 semifinal. Defending a modest 138 after Mysuru Warriors spinners Kushal Wadhwani and J Suchith had done the bulk of the damage, the Bengaluru Blasters hit back through their own spinners, the trio of Shreyas Gopal, Arshdeep Singh Brar and Anand Doddamani, to take their place in the final with a 20-run win.
With Mysuru placed at a commanding 69 for 1 at the halfway mark of their chase, a score owed to left-handed opener Arjun Hoysala, who had blasted his way to a half-century, things looked very bleak for Blasters, the KPL 2018 league stage toppers.
It was then that skipper Robin Uthappa's decision to bring in an offie for the left-handers and a leggie for the right-handers did wonders. First Brar, known more for his big-hitting, got Hoysala (52, 42b, 8x4) in a tangle, one ball after wicketkeeper KB Pawan put him down, the opener wandered out of the crease, was beaten by the turn and was stumped. Next over left-arm spinner Doddamani (4-0-16-2) got Amit Verma to nick a straight one behind.
With both left-handers gone, Uthappa took Brar off despite his figures reading 2-0-5-1 at the stage, and brought in leggie Gopal (3-0-13-3) to the right-handed Shoaib Manager. A sweep against the turn saw Manager back in the dug out. After that it was a virtual parade and Mysuru found themselves in a big hole, one they just couldn't get out of.
Earlier, the start was hit by rain but despite the 65-minute delay, no overs were lost. The Blasters not only lost the toss, they lost wickets too at regular intervals after being asked to bat first by Mysuru Warriors skipper J Suchith.
It took a late burst from left-handed number seven Manoj Bhandage (34, 15b, 2x4, 2x6) for them to make some progress and ultimately set the host side 139 to get from the full 20 overs.
It was Suchith, in his chief role of left-arm spinner who broke the back of the Blasters' line-up when he got rid of his opposite number Uthappa (23, 24b, 3x4) just when the batsman was looking to kick on. That was in the 13th over, which ended as a rare wicket maiden. Next over, his fourth and final, Suchith got rid of Brar.
Before Suchith got into the act it was young leg-spinner Kushal Wadhwani (3-25) who took the centre stage. Wadhwani, whose first spell read 3-0-17-2, came back in the 19th over to grab a low caught and bowled chance offered by Bhandage to ensure the target would remain modest. It was just reward for some accurate bowling from the leg-spinner but then his batsmen let him down.
Brief scores: Bengaluru Blasters: 138/9 in 20 overs (Robin Uthappa 23, Manoj Bhandage 34; Prateek Jain 2-28, Kushal Wadhwani 3-25, J Suchith 2-12) bt Mysuru Warriors: 118/9 in 20 overs (Arjun Hoysala 52; Anand Doddamani 2-16, Shreyas Gopal 3-13) by 20 runs.