Karun Nair smashed his way to 77 from 42 balls with ten fours and a six as Karnataka notch a two-run win over Hyderabad. © AFP

Karun Nair smashed his way to 77 from 42 balls with ten fours and a six as Karnataka notch a two-run win over Hyderabad. © AFP

Stuart Binny’s experience helped Karnataka score a two-run win over Hyderabad, Andhra held their nerve to clinch a last-ball win over Kerala, and Dinesh Karthik led the way as Tamil Nadu kept their winning streak alive against Goa in the South Zone matches of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy All-India Twenty20 tournament on Thursday (January 11).

Hyderabad v Karnataka in Visakhapatnam
Despite putting up a mammoth 205 for 5 after being asked to bat, R Vinay Kumar’s men were pushed to the brink as Hyderabad, on the back of a blistering 29-ball 70 from P Akshath Reddy, took the game to the final over at the Dr YS Rajasekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium.

Much to the disappointment of Ambati Rayudu’s men, Binny, who has played 117 T20s since his debut in 2009, gave away next to nothing in the last six balls and picked up a wicket, while two Hyderabad batsmen ran themselves out in the same over to hand Karnataka a much-needed win.

Coming into the game following a seven-wicket loss at the hands of Andhra, Karnataka’s famed batting unit had to up the ante, and it did with two of the top three batsmen doing the bulk of the damage.

Karun Nair smashed his way to 77 from 42 balls with ten fours and a six, while K Gowtham, pushed up the order to use the long handle, smacked 57 from 31 balls with four fours and as many sixes.

The 131-run second-wicket partnership made the task daunting for Hyderabad, but once Tanmay Agarwal and Akshath got going, it didn’t seem as impossible as it did at one stage.

While Tanmay belted four sixes and a boundary to get to 38 from 23 balls, Akshath’s stay was studded with seven hits over the fence and three boundaries. The top three Hyderabad batsmen, including DB Ravi Teja (14), added 126 runs by the 11th over to significantly improve their chances of a victory. Binny ended Akshath’s stay in the 11th over, but Karnataka weren’t out of trouble just yet.

There were some useful contributions along the way, but it was B Sandeep’s blitz that raised Hyderabad’s hopes. Batting at No. 7, Sandeep carted Karnataka’s bowlers all over on his way to 34 from 19 balls. But his run out, followed by Akash Bhandari’s, in the 20th over effectively dashed Hyderabad’s hopes. The final nail came when Binny scalped Mohammed Siraj off the final ball of the innings to finish with figures of 3 for 29 from four overs.

There was some drama in Karnataka’s innings when Mehedi Hasan denied that he had stepped on the boundary rope when fielding in the deep. Based on the fielder’s claim, the umpires awarded Karnataka two runs, but Vinay fought the case, with video evidence, and eventually, two more runs were added to Karnataka’s tally at the innings break. Tempers flared in the wake of the incident, and as luck would have it, those extra runs made all the difference.

Interestingly, with the Andhra v Kerala game scheduled for the same venue immediately afterwards, the fracas meant that crucial time was lost and the next game could only be a 13-overs-a-side affair.

Late in the evening, the Board of Control for Cricket in India said action would be taken under their Code of Conduct depending on the report of Rajib Deb Burman, the match referee. “The BCCI has taken cognizance of the events. An official report by the Match Referee is awaited, following which appropriate action as per BCCI’s Code of Conduct will be taken,” the BCCI tweeted from their official handle.

Andhra v Kerala in Visakhapatnam

Sanju Samson a fiery 19-ball 32. © BCCI

Sanju Samson a fiery 19-ball 32. © BCCI

A tremendous fightback by the bowlers, followed by a quickfire 34-ball 64 from Ashwin Hebbar guided Andhra to a six-wicket win over Kerala in the curtailed game, but only just.

Asked to bat, the Kerala batsmen failed to capitalise on the start they received from Sanju Samson and Vishnu Vinod, their openers, and were bowled out for 120 runs in 12 overs. In reply, with one run required off the last delivery, D Ravi Teja smacked a six off Abhishek Mohan to help Andhra finish on 126 for 4 in 13 overs.

The aggressive opening pair of Samson and Vinod got Kerala off to a fiery start as they added 65 runs in just 5.4 overs before the former was dismissed by Girinath Reddy for a 19-ball 32. Vinod stuck around for a while longer and hit three fours and four sixes in a 20-ball 45.

Once G Hanuma Vihari, the Andhra skipper, got rid off Vinod at the team total of 83, it took Andhra just 25 more deliveries to pick up the remaining eight wickets. While Harishankar Reddy claimed 4 for 12 in two overs, B Ayyappa finished with 3 for 32.

Chasing what was still a strong target considering the number of balls available, Hebbar and Vihari, who scored 25 in 19 balls, took the same route the Kerela openers had. The two put on 75 runs in 6.5 overs to set up the perfect platform.

Basil Thampi (2 for 35) sent back Hebbar off the final delivery of 10th over with Andhra needing 19 runs off 18 balls. Kerala did manage to take the game till the end but a couple of hits from Ravi Teja (15* in 10) made sure Andhra got their win.

Tamil Nadu v Goa in Vizianagaram

Dinesh Karthik held Tamil Nadu’s innings together with a sparkling 56. © AFP

Dinesh Karthik held Tamil Nadu’s innings together with a sparkling 56. © AFP

Karthik continued his red-hot form as Tamil Nadu maintained their all-win record, defeating Goa by 25 runs at the Dr PVG Raju ACA Sports Complex.

Coming off half-centuries in the two previous games, Karthik held Tamil Nadu’s innings together with a sparkling 56 on the back of which they scored 155 for 5. Washington Sundar and M Ashwin, the spinners, then picked up two wickets apiece to stop Goa at 130 for 7.

Tamil Nadu made a rapid start after B Aparajith chose to bat, but lost Abhinav Mukund and Washington with 49 on the board and the Power Play behind them. Karthik drove them with six fours and a six during his 43-ball knock, the late impetus coming from the skipper (26), R Sanjay Yadav (28* off 20) and N Jagadeesan (10* in seven).

Fresh off his maiden five-for in the previous game, K Vignesh drew first blood for Tamil Nadu in the third over when he accounted for Swapnil Asnodkar. The chase unravelled once Washington’s offspin and Ashwin’s legspin operated in tandem, the two spinners both tying the batsmen down and striking regularly.

Sagun Kamat battled along, but the skipper’s 41 came off 42 deliveries and never threatened to hurt Tamil Nadu. Goa remained firmly rooted to the foot of the table after a third successive defeat, Washington finishing with 2 for 20 and Ashwin, playing his first match of the competition, ending up with 2 for 22.