Bijapur boosted by third win
Bijapur Bulls took another giant step towards sealing a spot in the final with a comprehensive win against Belagavi Panthers. Stuart Binny's 3 for 22, and sparkling half-centuries from Man of the Match Mithun Beerala and Gaurav Dhiman, not only spoilt Belagavi's bid to claim top spot, but propelled Bijapur to third in the points table, a rank higher than Belagavi.
Bijapur captain Sudhindra Shinde must have thought his decision to put Belagavi in had backfired after the openers, J Arun Kumar and Manish Pandey, added 64 by the seventh over. The runs were freely flowing from Arun Kumar's bat and he hit three fours and six sixes during his 56-ball 73. Binny, who has signed up with the Mumbai Indians for the IPL, bowled with great discipline and struck at regular intervals. He even managed to effect a run-out to help Bijapur limit Belagavi to 158.
Beerala and Dhiman, however, were unfazed by the challenging target and they cruised to 111 by the 15th over. There was little joy for the Belagavi bowlers as both batsmen put on a stellar show. Dhiman managed 60 off 45 balls, hitting five fours and three sixes. Even after his departure, Beerala continued aggressively before falling for a 52-ball 64, with four boundaries and three sixes, just as victory was in sight.
Malnad Gladiators' poor run continued as they lost a thrilling tie against Mysore Maharaajas - their third straight defeat in the competition. With rains causing havoc earlier in the day, the contest was reduced to 10-overs-a-side, and Mysore managed to clinch the bottom-tier clash only off the penultimate delivery to stay in contention for a place in the final.
It was a forgettable day for the Malnad batsmen, who surrendered meekly after being put in. Adithya Sagar and Abrar Kazi ran riot as Malnad struggled under the conditions. Both picked up three wickets, with Kazi denting the middle order and Sagar making light work of the tail. The highest score of 15 came from Abhmanyu Mithun and Malnad were dismissed for 61.
Mysore were never going to be troubled during the chase, but Malnad sensed an opportunity with the regular fall of wickets. HT Sudhir Rao anchored the innings with 22 off 21 balls at the top, before Chethan Willam ensured victory with a cameo of 15, which included two fours. It was the perfect stimulus for Mysore who now have managed back-to-back wins after losing their two opening games.