Surat, Dec 1: Defending champions Karnataka defeated Tamil Nadu by a margin of just one run in a nail-biting final and lifted the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy here at Lalabhai Contractor Stadium on Sunday (December 1).
Defending their target of 180, the Manish Pandey-led side held their nerves brilliantly in the death overs to deny the Dinesh Karthik & band a famous win.
With 13 required from the last six deliveries, Krishanappa Gowtham came back strongly as despite being hit by a couple of boundaries by R Ashwin in the final over and ensured his team secured the win.
After being invited to bat first, Manish Pandey brilliantly led his team from the front as he slammed an unbeaten 60 off 45 deliveries. Along with Rohan Kadam (35 off 25) and Karun Nair (17 off 8) in the death overs, Manish ensured his bowlers had a decent total to defend as the dew was going to play it's role later in the evening.
Karnataka was in a spot of bother when their star batsmen KL Rahul (22) and Mayank Agarwal (0) were dismissed off consecutive deliveries by R Ashwin in the fifth over. But along with in-form Devdutt Padikkal (32 off 23), Pandey steadied the Karnataka ship and guided the team to a defendable total.
R Ashwin (2 for 34), Murugan Ashwin (2 for 33) and Washington Sundar (1 for 28) were amongst the wicket-takers for Tamil Nadu.
In response, Tamil Nadu didn't have the best of starts while chasing a big total as openers Shahrukh Khan (16) and Hari Nishanth (14) were dismissed within the powerplay. Captain Dinesh Karthik (20 off 16) and Washington Sundar (24 off 19) then started accumulating runs quickly but just when they were looking settled, both the batsmen went back in the dugout in consecutive overs.
Later, Baba Aparajith (40 off 25) and Vijay Shankar (44 of 27) shared a partnership of 71 runs between them and once again brought Tamil Nadu in the game. After Aparajith's dismissal on the first ball of the 18th over by Ronit More, R Ashwin too played a brilliant second fiddle to set Shankar.
With 13 runs needed from the final six balls, Ashwin brought his team close to home as he hit Krishnappa Gowtham for back-to-boundaries first up. However, on the fifth delivery, Shankar attempted a double but a well-judged from long-on by Manish Pandey helped KL Rahul dislodge the bails before the batsman could make it to the crease. With three runs required from the final delivery, Gowtham conceded just a single to the new-man-in M Ashwin.
Losing captain Karthik said he was proud with the way his team performed in the league and rued it would have great if they'd won.
What an incredible finish. Just what you want in a domestic final #KARvTN. Have seen so many games where 5 from 3 isn't chased.— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) December 1, 2019
"When I look back after a few years I would feel that it would've been great had we won. Some of the boys have stood up, we have played great cricket and I think it my duty as a leader to be proud of this team. At the start of the year if you'd have told me that we would've been in the finals of both white-ball tournaments I would've taken it any day. More importantly, this is a start for us. We need to take this confidence into the Ranji Trophy. Three overs, 30 runs with six wickets in hand, you fancy yourselves to win. But the boys did superbly bring it to that stage."
"This is not the game where I would like to sit and analyse. Every game was a knockout for us in the Super League after the first game. We have got the talent, we have got the guts. I would like to thank the crowd, we put up a show for them. It is rare to get a crowd like this and to get a close game is great. Really looking forward to the Ranji Trophy and the boys would put their best foot forward," the wicketkeeper-batsman added further.
Manish Pandey, the winning skipper, said this year's win was a lot sweeter and praised the boys for the collective effort all through the domestic tournament.
"We won it last year but this year the victory was a lot sweeter. The way the boys played the entire tournament has been unbelievable. Everyone has put in so much effort that I thought it was a very good game. It came neck to neck but we deserved it. You have to enjoy each other's success, and if you do, you have higher chances of winning finals like these. Hopefully, there is more to come."
"When everybody tells me that I am the best fielder in the team, you have to take responsibility. I have taken it upon me to field there (long-on) and all the practice comes helpful in a situation like this and that run-out probably changed the game."