February 14, 2002

Karnataka lift trophy in HSBC National Cricket Tournament for the Blind

V Ganesh

Karnataka pulled off a three-wicket win against Delhi in the finals of the HSBC National Cricket Tournament for the Blind at the SPIC-YMCA ground in Chennai. The final was the obverse of the last league match between the same two teams yesterday at the Southern Railway Ground, a match that was won by Delhi. Shekar Nayak was the chief architect of today's victory with a majestic ton.

Delhi won the toss and decided to bat first, echoing yesterday's decision. They scored 291 for the loss of nine wickets in the allotted 40 overs. Delhi openers Ram Karan and Pratap Bisht batted splendidly and added a mammoth 177 for the first wicket before the former fell to a direct hit from Manjunath after making 65 (74 balls, 3x4). Bisht made 39 (110 balls, 1x4), but his effort contributed 78 runs to the team score as he was completely blind.

Barring Sunil Kadyan, the rest of Delhi's batsmen failed to impress; Kadyan remained unbeaten on 40 off just 36 deliveries with two hits to the ropes. The Karnataka bowlers continued with their habit of gifting extras, with 53 wides and 25 no-balls featuring in the 86 extras. Manjunath was the pick of the Karnataka bowlers with three for 33 from his eight overs. Mahesh had a good day in the field, picking up two wickets and also effecting two stumpings.

Chasing 292, Karnataka reached the target with just 11 balls to spare. Shekar Nayak was rightly adjudged the Man of the Match for his mammoth 161 off 138 balls with 13 fours. He won the match singlehandedly for Karnataka today, with the extras (62) being the next highest individual score.

Nethraj gave good company to Nayak and scored 20 runs and contributing 40 to the team total. Like the Delhi middle order, the Karnataka middle order too failed to score runs. In fact, towards the end, Karnataka lost wickets in a hurry. When even Nayak was dismissed, Ravikumar held his nerve and made an important run-a-ball 17 not out. For Delhi, Gaur, Ram Karan and Ramesh Kumar picked a wicket each.

Nayak also won the Man of the Series award in the partially sighted category for his consistent performances through the four days of the tournament. Bisht was the Man of the Series in the totally blind category and Mahesh in the partially blind category.

The awards ceremony after the match was presided over by Ashok Kumbhat, Honorary Secretary of the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association. Prakash Kuruvilla, Senior Manager - South India, HSBC, was the chief guest, and he handed over the trophies and prizes. Badri Seshadri, MD, CricInfo India Pvt. Ltd., offered a speech of thanks at the end of the ceremony, bringing to an end a tournament that should go a long way in promoting the worthwhile cause of blind cricket.