They have entered the final of the inaugural Mantri Karnataka Premier League, registering a convincing 15-run victory over the most impressive team in the fray, Bangalore Brigadiers.
After putting on a par for the course 159 for seven on the board, Panthers showed remarkable purpose in restricting Brigadiers to 144 to march into the title round. Perhaps, it was the nerves of a big occasion that bogged down the Brigadiers batsmen, who never looked at ease on the middle right from the beginning. Openers CB Karthik and Nishant Shekhawat, usually a free-flowing pair, found the going tough against Panthers’ new ball bowlers R Vinay Kumar and David Johnson.
The run rate hovered just over an inadequate 5.2 when the duo was at the crease before paceman R Madhusudan ejected Karthik. Brigadiers fans greeted the arrival of Robin Uthappa with roars and claps, but the Kodava lad was a distant shadow of his aggressive self much to their disappointment.
His staccato stay at the crease came to an end when his attempt to cart Zeeshan Ali Sayed ended in the hands of Vinay Kumar at the mid-wicket fence. Once Uthappa returned to the hut, Brigadiers were always going to struggle to keep up with the ever-climbing asking rate.
M Vinod (47, 27b, 5x4, 2x6) briefly nurtured the images of a miraculous comeback with some lusty blows while adding 41 runs off a mere 25 balls with David Mathias. But Johnson snuffed out the hopes, dismissing Vinod and then applied the final touches taking the wickets of David Mathias and Vinu Prasad in the same over.
Earlier, Panthers innings experienced two different phases – a scorching first-half and a dud second-half. Skipper/coach J Arun Kumar and R Vinay Kumar, promoted to number three, decided to blaze all guns as Panthers soon forgot the early loss of Manish Pandey.
With Arun and man of the match Vinay in a destructive mood there was no hiding place for the bowlers. After a few initial moments of serenity following Pandey’s dismissal, Arun and Vinay opened up with ferocity, hitting sixes, some of them thudding into the far corners of the Chinnaswamy stadium, and fours at will.
Arun was more damaging among the duo as the powerful right-hander conjured his fifty in just 30 balls marked with those trademark cuts and pulls. Vinay too played some powerful shots as 96 runs came in the first 10 overs.
But after the strategy break, Panthers, who lost Arun and Vinay in quick succession, suffered a deep freeze, managing to score only 63 from the remaining 10 overs. However, it did not hurt them much on the day.
BELAGAVI PANTHERS: J Arun Kumar b M Vinod 60; Manish Pandey c Nishant b Mansur 1; R Vinay Kumar c Karthik b Mansur 54; Shyam Ponnappa c Uthappa b Lazarus 3; Vinayak Uthappa c Uthappa b Vinu 32; Suraj Sampath (not out) 2; P Yogesh (run out) 1; Zeeshan Sayed (run out) 3; Extras (LB-1, W-2) 3; Total (for 7 wkts, 20 overs) 159
Fall of wickets: 1-6, 2-100, 3-105, 4-141, 5-154, 6-155, 7-159.
Bowling: Dilip Sagar 2-0-15-0, Mansur Ali Khan 4-0-30-2, David Mathias 1-0-19-0, Vinu Prasad 4-0-34-1, M Vinod 4-0-18-1, Robin Uthappa 1-0-14-0, Steve Lazarus 2-0-13-1, Deepak Chougule 2-0-15-0.
BANGALORE BRIGADIERS: CB Karthik c Sampath b Madhusudan 15; Nishant Shekhawat (run out) 24; Robin Uthappa c R Vinay b Zeeshan 9; Steve Lazarus c Pandey b Patil 0; Deepak Chougule st V Uthappa b Patil 9; M Vinod c Arun b Johnson 47; David Mathias c Pandey b Johnson 20; Vinu Prasad c Pandey b Johnson 0; Sadiq Kirmani (run out) 0; Dilip Sagar st V Uthappa b Johnson 8; Mansur Ali Khan (not out) 5; Extras (B-1, LB-4, W-2) 7; Total (all out, 20 overs) 144.
Fall of wickets: 1-32, 2-53, 3-53, 4-55, 5-80, 6-121, 7-131, 8-131, 9-132.
Bowling: R Vinay Kumar 4-0-9-0, David Johnson 4-0-38-4, R Madhusudan 3-0-24-1, Ramling Patil 4-0-27-2, Zeeshan Sayed 3-0-30-1, J Arun Kumar 2-0-11-0.