In the brief history of India’s domestic T20 national tournament, no team has managed to win back-to-back titles.
That changed on Sunday in Surat as Karnataka defended their Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 title after a thrilling win against rivals Tamil Nadu.
Manish Pandey led from the front with a sublime half-century and a clutch run-out while the bowlers produced a team effort to help Karnataka deservedly be crowned champions of the shortest format, beating Tamil Nadu by one run in a thrilling final.
Sent into bat, Karnataka made a challenging 180/5, riding on skipper Pandey’s 45-ball unbeaten 60 and useful contribution from Rohan Kadam (35), Devdutt Padikkal (32) and KL Rahul (22).
Karun Nair also made a fine 8-ball 17 to help his side’s cause.
And then Karnataka bowlers dished out a fine death over bowling display to restrict Tamil Nadu to 179/6 in their 20 overs.
All Tamil Nadu batsmen got starts but failed to capitalise on them. All-rounder Vijay Shankar top-scored with a 44 off 27 balls while Baba Aparajith made 40 off 25 balls. The duo shared 71 runs for the fifth wicket to give Tamil Nadu a glimmer of hope.
After Aparajith’s dismissal, Shankar and Ravichandran Ashwin (16 not out) kept Tamil Nadu in the hunt but they fell short of chasing down the target in the end.
Needing 13 runs from the last over, Ashwin struck two consecutive boundaries off Krishnappa Gowtham to reduce the margin but Shankar’s run out two balls later cost Tamil Nadu dearly.
Needing three off the last ball, Murugan Ashwin could only manage one as Karnataka captured the title for the second consecutive time. In the Karnataka innings, Tamil Nadu leg-spinner M Ashwin (2/33) and R Ashwin (2/34) picked up two wickets apiece.
If you missed the humdinger in Surat, catch up on the highlights here: