Team India’s latest Test cricketer showed his T20 prowess as Mayank Agarwal smashed an unbeaten 85 off 57 balls as Karnataka dished out a clinical all-round performance to beat Maharashtra by eight wickets and lift the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy in Indore on Thursday.
With this win, Karnataka have now registered 14 consecutive wins in the shortest format which is a joint-record along with Kolkata Knight Riders for an Indian side. No state team has won as many matches on the trot.
This was Karnataka’s first triumph in the domestic T20 event. They went the entire tournament unbeaten.
After captain Manish Pandey opted to bowl on a fresh red-soil pitch, Karnataka bowlers, led by experienced Abhimanyu Mithun (2-24), put up a spirited show to restrict Maharashtra to 155/4 despite an unbeaten 69 by all-rounder Naushad Shaikh.
Later, they overhauled the target with Agarwal and Rohan Kadam (60 off 39 balls) striking half-centuries.
Karnataka chased the target with nine balls to spare and ended their otherwise ordinary season on a high.
Chasing 156, Karnataka lost opener BR Sharath (2) in the third over after left-arm medium pacer Samad Fallah cleaned him up. Then in-form Kadam and Agarwal steadied the ship, as Karnataka raced to 45/1 in five overs.
The duo kept on scoring at a brisk pace and took a listless Maharashtra attack to cleaners in their 92-run stand for the second wicket, which laid foundation of the eight-wicket win.
Karnataka were cruising at 106/1 in 12 overs and needed 50 runs. But then Kadam threw his wicket away. However, Kadam’s departure did not deter Agarwal from playing his natural game as he and Karun Nair (8 not out) then took the side home.
Put into bat, Maharashtra posted a respectable 155/4 on the board courtesy Shaikh’s unbeaten 69 off 41 balls.
Shaikh along with the ever-reliable Ankit Bawne (29 off 25 balls) rallied the Maharashtra innings with their 81-run stand for the fourth wicket after the Surendra Bhave-coached team was in a spot of bother at 55-3.
Earlier, openers Rahul Tripathi (30 off 32 balls) and Ruturaj Gaikwad (12) gave Maharashtra a brisk start by scoring 35 inside the first five overs.
But it was pacer Mithun, who gave Karnataka the much needed breakthrough by removing Gaikwad.
One down, Vijay Zol (8) also fell cheaply after being stumped by wicketkeeper Sharath off J Suchith. It was a moment of inspired wicketkeeping by Sharath as he pounced on a brief moment that Zol had his backfoot in the air.
Triphathi was the third Maharashtra batsman to walk back to the pavilion with Maharashtra in deep trouble at 55-3.
Then Shaikh and Bawne not only took the opposition bowlers to task, but also in the process pulled the team out of trouble. Shaikh struck five fours and three sixes, while Bawne hammered four boundaries. The duo, at one point, hit four boundaries off one Suchith over to provide momentum to the Maharashtra innings.
The loss Meant that Maharashtra will have to wait longer for a major domestic title.
Here’s a round-up of all the winners from the domestic season that came to a close on Thursday:
Maharashtra 155/4 ( Naushad Shaikh 69 not out, Rahul Tripathi 30, Ankit Bawne 29; Abhimanyu Mithun 2-24) lost to Karnataka 159/2 (Mayank Agarwal 85 not out, Rohan Kadam 60; D M Hinganekar 1-21) by 8 wickets.