Mysuru, Sep 5: Runs on the board is very often the key in a knockout game but they forgot to tell that to Bharath Chipli and MG Naveen. Forced to chase in Wednesday's (September 5) second semifinal of the Karnataka Premier League (KPL), after Hubli Tigers skipper R Vinay Kumar followed the norm of batting first in a pressure game, Chipli and his fellow opener MG Naveen made a mockery of the 135-run target.
Their forceful 125-run stand from just from 86 balls took them to a comprehensive 9-wicket victory and a shot at the title. The Bulls take on Bengaluru Blasters in the final on Thursday (September 6).
Ironically enough the start to the Hubli innings was actually better as indicated by their getting to 52 for 1 in the six Powerplay overs. At the same stage, Bijapur were 37 for no loss. But that's where the game changed as both Chipli (73, 46b, 9x4, 3x6) and Naveen (62 not out, 43b, 7x4, 3x6), riding on a few dropped chances as also some ferocious stroke play against pacers and spinners alike, turned on the heat. Chipli fell in the 15h over but for once in the tournament, there was to be no drama, the winning hit being a six from Naveen's blade with 31 balls to spare.
Credit must also go to the Bijapur Bulls bowlers who bowled their hearts out. From 52 for 1 in the first 6 Powerplay overs, openers Mohd Taha (24, 19b, 3x4, 1x6) and Abhishek Reddy (42, 33b, 4x4, 1x6) doing the damage for Hubli, the Bulls fought back. Two wickets for in-form left-arm spinner KP Appanna, including that of Taha in his opening over after being hit for two boundaries, led to only 17 runs coming off the next four overs.
Sixty-nine for two became 99 for 4 at the end of the 15th with the Bulls dropping as many as five catches, but the expected last-overs recovery almost didn't come. Fortunately, No. 7 Kranthi Kumar was around to use the long handle. It was his 14-ball, unbeaten 24 (1x4, 2x6) that gave the Tigers something to fight with. At least that's what they thought at the halfway mark.
Brief scores: Hubli Tigers 134/7 in 20 overs (Mohd Taha 24, Abhishek Reddy 42, Kranthi Kumar 24 n.o.; Naveen MG 2-36, KP Appanna 2-28) beat Bijapur Bulls: 136/1 in 14.5 overs (Bharath Chipli 73, MG Naveen 62 n.o.) by 9 wickets.
Final - Bengaluru Blasters vs Bijapur Bulls - 6.40 pm.
SDNR Wadiyar Stadium, Mysuru.
Live on Star Sports 2, Star Sports 2 HD and Hotstar