Mysuru, Sept 1: Hubli Tigers' skipper R Vinay Kumar was in his elements as he took his side into the semifinals of the Karbonn Smartphones Karnataka Premier League (KPL 2018) on Saturday (September 1).
Hubli's 44-run win over Belagavi Panthers at the SDNR Wadiyar Stadium also resulted in the defending champions' getting knocked out of contention for a last-four spot. Needing to chase down Hubli's 182 for 5 and keep their hopes alive, Belagavi were bowled out for a poor 138, with Vinay bagging a wicket in each of his four overs.
That also meant that whatever the results in the tournament from here on, Mysuru Warriors and Bijapur Bulls will be in the semis alongside Hubli Tigers and Bengaluru Blasters. Only the exact placements are yet to be determined.
It was out and out Vinay's day. Not only did he pick up 4/19 (4-0-19-4) after he had contributed a crucial unbeaten 21 earlier when Hubli batted, on the night he also became the first player in the KPL to aggregate score 1000 runs and go past the 50-wicket mark. He achieved both landmarks in this very game.
It wasn't a totally one-man show though. Having been put into bat by Stuart Binny, Hubli found themselves looking down the barrel when they were reduced to 33 for three inside the fourth over. But then they found their heroes in opener Abhishek Reddy, who had hardly faced a ball as wickets tumbled around him, and number five Praveen Dubey. The fourth-wicket duo raised an exact 100 (69 balls) to put their side back on top.
Reddy (74 runs out, 37b, 8x4, 3x6) might have ended with a strike rate of 200 but there was hardly any slogging involved, though he does go for the odd improvisation to send the ball soaring over the wicketkeeper. He had seen three early wickets fall and so knew it was time to consolidate but did so with an eye on the run rate too, which allowed his partner Dubey (40, 44b, 2x4) to take his time.
Belagavi's most successful bowler Niyaz Nizar, who had struck in each of his first two overs to play a big part in Hubli being reduced to 33 for 3, too wasn't spared. Nizar, using the seam well, had both Sujith N Gowda and Sunil Kumar Jain caught behind after left-arm spinner Shubang Hedge had struck with the first ball of the match when he had opener Mohd Taha caught at long leg off the sweep.
Eventually, though Hubli's fourth wicket association which was later built on in the last overs by the sixth wicket pair of Vinay and MB Darshan, who added 25 runs from 12 balls, proved to be the game changer. As were Vinay's strikes with the ball. Good old seam and swing from the veteran spelled Belagavi's doom.
Brief scores: Hubli Tigers: 182/5 in 20 overs (Abhishek Reddy 74, Praveen Dubey 40, Vinay Kumar 21 n.o., MB Darshan 18 n.o.; Niyaz Nizar 2-40) beat Belagavi Panthers: (Nidhish 23; Vinay Kumar 4-19, Mahesh Patel 2-25, Anil IG 2-15) by 44 runs.
Sunday's matches (Sept 2, 2018) - Shivamogga Lions vs Bijapur Bulls - 2.10 pm;
Mysuru Warriors vs Bengaluru Blasters - 6.40 pm, SDNR Wadiyar Stadium, Mysuru.
Live on Star Sports 2, Star Sports 2 HD and Hotstar
Karbonn Kamal Catch: Kranti Kumar
Lakshmi Vilas Bank Most Bankable Players: Praveen Dubey
Cycle Most trusted player: Vinay Kumar
Fastrack player with best reflexes: Rakshith
Man of the Match: Abhishek Reddy
Purple Cap: Mahesh Patel
Orange Cap: Raajoo Bhatkal