Mysuru, September 6: Bijapur Bulls became the first team to lift the KPL title for a second time. They had earlier won in 2015. The Bharath Chipli-led side dominated the final at the SDNR Wadiyar Stadium on Thursday (September 6), handing the hapless Bengaluru Blasters a seven-wicket defeat, incidentally their first loss in the tournament, to lift the KPL 2018 title.
Boosted by another stellar performance from their star left-arm spinner KP Appanna, whose skills ensured that the Bulls were up against the lowest ever target in a KPL, the Bulls chased down Blasters' 101 inside the 14th over to underline their dominance in KPL 2018.
All-rounder MG Naveen led the reply with a 31-ball 43 (4x5, 2x6), his 47-run opening stand with skipper Bharath Chipli (18, 19b, 4x4) from 6.3 overs, ensuring a smooth passage to the title.
Naveen had earlier picked up two wickets for 19 after his skipper Chipli had decided to bowl first. The Blasters came up with a terrible performance to get bowled out for 101 off the last ball of the 20th over.
As bad as the Blasters batting was, Appanna's bowling was exemplary. He had got two crucial wickets in the semifinal, ending with two for 28 against Hubli Tigers, but on this day he went one better with three for 16 from his four overs.
Coming on in the 8th over with the Blasters on 37/2, Appanna struck straightaway, having opener KB Pawan caught at deep midwicket. Using the arm ball to the left-handers and the stock away ball to the right-handers Appanna kept the batsmen guessing all the time.
As usual he got good support from fellow spinners KC Cariappa and Suneel Raju, the latter having two catches dropped off his bowling.
Of the top five batsmen in the Bengaluru Blasters line-up, only opener KB Pawan (22, 25b, 1x4, 1x6) got into double figures and to think he was actually dropped twice before he made 10. The biggest blow was the loss of their skipper Robin Uthappa, the one with the experience and skill to handle both the pressure of a big final as also the vagaries of a wearing surface.
Medium pace-bowling all-rounder Naveen made up for dropping Pawan when with his first ball he had Uthappa (9) chasing a wide ball that moved away a shade and nicking to wicketkeeper KL Shrijith.
But it all started with the Chipli bringing off a sensational run out. Not only did he make a great stop at cover when Pawan drove Gulecha firmly, but Chipli also came up with a superb reflex action direct hit to catch non-striker Chetan Williams off guard. That was just the fourth ball of the match and it was a setback that the Blasters just didn't overcome, not with bat and certainly not with the ball.
Brief scores: Bengaluru Blasters: 101 all out in 20 overs (KB Pawan 22; Bhavesh Gulecha 2-14, MG Naveen 2-19, KP Appanna 3-16) lost to Bijapur Bulls: 106/3 in 13.5 overs (MG Naveen 43) by 7 wickets.