Karnataka 180 for 5 (Pandey 60*, Kadam 35, M Ashwin 2-33, R Ashwin 2-34) beat Tamil Nadu 179 for 6 (Vijay 44, Aparajith 40, More 2-32) by one run
Defending champions Karnataka survived a Baba Aparajith-Vijay Shankar scare to clinch the last-ball thriller as they beat Tamil Nadu by one run in the final of Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2019-20. Having won the Vijay Hazare Trophy a little over a month ago, they become the first team two win both white-ball titles in the same season. Incidentally, Tamil Nadu was the losing side in the Vijay Hazare Trophy final as well.
After being put in, Manish Pandey led from the front, scoring an unbeaten 60 to help Karnataka to a formidable 180 for 5. In response, Tamil Nadu were 80 for 4 at the end of ten overs before Shankar and Aparajith revived the chase by adding 71 in 43 balls for the fifth wicket.
It came down to 13 required from the final over with Vijay and R Ashwin in the middle. R Ashwin hit offspinner K Gowtham’s first two balls for fours before playing a dot ball and taking a single to bring Vijay on strike. With four needed from two balls, Vijay was run out while returning for a non-existent second run; Pandey’s throw from long-on found him short.
With two required off the final ball for a Super Over, non-striker R Ashwin removed his pads but his namesake M Ashwin could hardly get the ball off the pitch and the batsmen could run only one.
Tamil Nadu stumble after strong start
Tamil Nadu started their chase positively and moved to 64 for 2 at the end of seven overs with Washington Sundar and Dinesh Karthik looking well set. Karthik had hit just two fours off Shreyas Gopal and when Rohan Kadam failed to latch on to a rebound at the deep-backward square leg boundary in the eighth over, it looked like it was Tamil Nadu’s night.
Karnataka though struck back by sending the duo back in successive overs. J Suchith got Karthik stumped and Gowtham castled Washington to peg them back.
Karnataka survive Aparajith, Vijay scare
Tamil Nadu needed 101 from the last ten overs and Vijay and Aparajith never let the asking rate go past 11. They found at least one boundary per over between oers 11 to 15 and reduced the equation to 52 required from five overs.
Aparajith then hit the first balls of the next two overs for a six each and took the side closer. But with 31 needed from 18 balls, Aparajith fell to Ronit More while looking for another six. Vijay and R Ashwin further brought it down to 25 from 12 and then 13 from 6 but in the end, they fell short by the narrowest of the margins.
Karnataka sail despite R Ashwin’s double-strike
It was billed as a contest between Karnataka’s batsmen and Tamil Nadu’s bowlers. And the black-soil surface, contrary to its behaviour so far the in the tournament, did seem to aid spinners. Straightaway there was turn available, with a couple of balls coming slower off the pitch. Add R Ashwin and Washington’s guile to it and you would back them to trouble most batsmen.
Karnataka’s batsmen, though, just don’t fall under that category. KL Rahul started the innings by cutting R Ashwin through point for four. While his opening partner Devdutt Padikkal didn’t look at his best and was pinged on the helmet by a T Natarajan bouncer in the fourth over, the youngster stayed unperturbed and flicked the seamer for a six three balls later.
In the next over, Rahul used his feet against R Ashwin to hit him over long-on but the spinner had his revenge on the next ball. Rahul skipped down again but R Ashwin shortened his length this time and had the batsman caught at long-on. Mayank Agarwal fell for a first-ball duck, closing the face of the bat too early to offer R Ashwin a simple return catch.
But Padikkal hit Washington for a six and a four in the next over to take Karnataka to 57 for 2 at the end of the powerplay.
Pandey’s unbeaten half-century leads Karnataka
Padikkal’s scratchy innings came to an end when he played inside the line to a Washington delivery and had his off stump flattened. His 23-ball 32 took his run tally to 580, the most in a single edition of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.
At the other end, Pandey stepped out against M Ashwin, hitting him for a six and four. He, in the company of Rohan Kadam, took the side past 100 in the 12th over.
Kadam too hit his strides after a slow start and struck back-to-back fours off left-arm spinner M Siddharth before hitting Vijay Shankar for three in a row in the next over. Manish Pandey kept putting away the loose balls and despite just 34 runs from the last four overs, Karnataka managed a total that proved just enough.