Mysuru, August 26: Belagavi Panthers flexed their bowling might to jump to second on the points table after their seven-wicket win over Bijapur Bulls at the SDNR Wadiyar stadium in Mysuru.
With Manish Pandey sitting this one out, Mir Kaunian Abbas reverted to his role as skipper and guided Panthers to their third successive win after restricting an off-colour Bulls to 136 for 8 in 20 overs.
Pandey, who has scores of 102*, 58* and 53* after missing the first game due to India duty, was missed, not so much as someone they were in dire need of but as someone who gets the crowd going. With under 500 people watching over, R Samarth (50 not out) dug deep to find form as the Panthers finished on 137 for 3 in 17.4 overs to garner seven points after the conclusion of their league commitment.
The Panthers have guaranteed their presence in the playoffs at the end of the six games. At the other end of the spectrum, the Bulls are all-but out of the tournament with three points from five games.
The rub of the green hasn't gone Bharath Chipli's way - at least as a captain - since the start of the tournament, and the trend continued here on a sunny afternoon after they were asked to bat first.
Chipli, who came into this contest with two half-centuries in four games, was almost too cautious as the Panthers opened the bowling with Zahoor Farooqui and Shubhang Hegde, the left-arm spinner.
While Farooqui was typically stringent at first before conceding 40 runs, Shubhang remained incisive throughout to wrap up his quota of overs with figures of 2 for 17. Darshan MB and Avinash D too were effective on the day, bagging two wickets apiece while giving away under seven runs an over.
A scratchy 33 is all Chipli could conjure, and if it wasn't for NP Bhareth's unbeaten 35, the Bulls wouldn't have given their bowlers a cushion of any sort.
Naveen infused Bulls' defence with some life after dismissing Arshdeep Singh Brar and Stallin Hoover inside three overs. But when the Bulls did go searching for more, all they faced was resistance from Samarth and D Negi.
Even after Negi's unnecessary run-out, Samarth kept his head down to prove, yet again, that textbook cricket never goes out of fashion. All Abhinav Manohar (42 not out) had to do was curb his instincts and rotate strike, a job he did appreciably.
Brief scores: Bijapur Bulls 136 for 8 in 20 overs (Bharath Chipli 33, Bhareth NP 35 not out; Shubhang Hegde 2-17, Avinash D 2-25, Darshan MB 2-19) lost to Belagavi Panthers 137 for 3 in 17.4 overs (R Samarth 50 not out, D Negi 32, Abhinav Manohar 42 not out; Naveen MG 2-28) by seven wickets.
Source: Press Release