Karun Nair set the stage on fire with a 111-run knock to give Karnataka their third win in four games. © BCCI

Karun Nair set the stage on fire with a 111-run knock to give Karnataka their third win in four games. © BCCI

Karun Nair was in prime form, as he came up with a stroke-filled century against a hapless Tamil Nadu to guide Karnataka to a 78-run win and a spot on top of the South Zone table in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy all-India Twenty20 Tournament on Friday (January 12).

Elsewhere in Visakhapatnam, Goa were no match for Kerala as they stumbled to their fourth consecutive loss, this time a nine-wicket defeat, while Andhra managed an easy win over Hyderabad. Tamil Nadu and Andhra are level with Karnataka on points (12), but occupy the second and third spots respectively.

Karnataka v Tamil Nadu

Karun Nair set the stage on fire at the Dr PVG Raju ACA Sports Complex in Vizianagaram with a 111-run knock to give Karnataka their third win in four games.

Karnataka, who despite a stellar display with the bat in Thursday’s contest against Hyderabad only won by two runs, were on point from the get-go against their arch-rivals and came away with a resounding victory.

Batting first, they piled up 179 for 9 before Praveen Dubey, in only his first season, picked up four wickets for 19 runs from 3.3 overs to bowl Tamil Nadu out for 101 in 16.3 overs.

But before the legspinner dashed Tamil Nadu’s hopes of maintaining an all-win record, Vijay Shankar’s men were handed a telling blow from Karun’s blade.

The Test triple-centurion wasn’t in the best of form in the recently concluded Ranji Trophy season, but showed why he is one of the best short-format batsmen by slashing his way to 111 from 52 balls with eight fours and an identical number of hits over the fence. In the previous game, Karun scored 77 from 42 balls.

Karnataka could have added far more to their tally, but with none of the other batsmen scoring more than 19 runs, they had to settle for a score that was in any case defendable.

The primary reason for Karnataka being restricted to under 200 was V Athisayaraj Davidson. Playing only his fourth match for Tamil Nadu, the medium pacer picked up five wickets for 30 runs from three overs.

The Tamil Nadu batting line-up landed the occasional punch, but couldn’t overcome the relentless pressure applied by Karnataka. Washington Sundar, opening the innings, was the top-scorer for Tamil Nadu with 34 runs from 26 balls.

Goa v Kerala in Visakhapatnam

Sanju Samson raced to 65 from 44 balls with four fours and as many sixes. © BCCI

Sanju Samson raced to 65 from 44 balls with four fours and as many sixes. © BCCI

Sanju Samson pummelled Goa’s lacklustre bowling at the Dr YS Rajasekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium in Visakhapatnam.

With sterling bowling performances from Asif KM and Abhishek Mohan, Kerala, after restricting Goa to 138 for 8 in 20 overs, used only their top three batsmen as they cruised to 140 for 1 in 15.5 overs to put an end to their losing streak.

Coming into the game with three losses in as many games, Kerala won a good toss and asked Goa to bat. They were rewarded as Goa lost wickets at regular intervals.

Keenan Vaz was the only batsman to make it past 30 runs as he took his time to reach 36 from 34 deliveries. Sagun Kamath (24) and Darshan Missal (23) too contributed.

Asif and Mohan were the pick of the bowlers, returning 3 for 25 and 3 for 30 respectively.

In response, Samson got off the blocks in quick time, racing to 65 from 44 balls with four fours and as many sixes. Vishnu Vinod, Samson’s opening partner, too was in a fiery mood, carting Goa’s bowlers to 34 from 19 balls with four sixes and a four.

Lakshay A Garg did give Goa a breakthrough when he dismissed Vinod, but Arun Karthik, who moved from Tamil Nadu to Kerala as a professional cricketer earlier this season, and Samson ensured no further drama.

Andhra v Hyderabad in Visakhapatnam

The Andhra bowlers hunted in a pack before Ricky Bhui crafted an unbeaten half-century to guide the team to a six-wicket win over Hyderabad.

Harishankar Reddy and Bandaru Ayyappa shared five wickets between themselves to restrict Hyderabad to 129 for 9 in 20 overs after Ambati Rayudu, the skipper, won the toss and elected to bat first. In reply, Bhui, who remained unconquered on 58-ball 73, shared a 114-run stand — Andhra’s highest partnership in T20 cricket — with D Ravi Teja to propel them to 133 for 4 in 18.2 overs.

Hyderabad lost their top four inside seven overs with just 38 runs on the board. Bavanaka Sandeep (35-ball 39) and Rayudu (25-ball 24) shared a 48-run stand for the fifth wicket but failed to score at a high pace.

Coming in at No. 7, Ashish Reddy smacked a couple of boundaries en route to a 12-ball 18 but once he fell to Harishankar in the 18th over, Hyderabad could only manage 10 runs in the last two overs.

While Harishankar returned with the figures of 3 for 30, Ayyappa claimed 2 for 30.

In reply, after losing Ashwin Hebbar (nought) and G Hanuma Vihari (4) early, Bhui and Teja mixed caution with aggression to take the side close to the total. The association was finally broken by Mohammed Siraj (3 for 26), who scalped Teja for a 43-ball 46. But, in the end, Bhui made sure that Andhra cruised to their third consecutive victory by a comfortable margin.