Spinners help Bangalore Provident to KPL title
Bangalore Provident (Rural) 125 for 5 (Naidu 33, Jain 28*) beat Belagavi Panthers 122 for 7 (Uthappa 45, Vinay Kumar 34, Amit Verma 2-12) by five wickets
Bangalore Provident (Rural), one of the strongest teams in the competition, expectedly lifted the inaugural KPL Cup in a low-scoring final against Belagavi Panthers at the Chinnaswamy Stadium. Bangalore's spinners, led by Amit Verma, set up the victory by restricting Belagavi to 122 for 7 on a sluggish surface. Bangalore were in control for the better part of the chase before a sudden spurt of wickets added a competitive flavour towards the end.
Belagavi opted to bat first but soon discovered that run-scoring wasn't very easy. Spin was introduced early and the wicketkeeper Thilak Naidu even stood up to the seamers to check the batsmen from using their feet. Belagavi were pegged back early when their in-form opener, J Arunkumar, was bowled by NC Aiyappa. When Manish Pandey departed in the fifth over, the run-rate dropped once the spinners took control. R Vinay Kumar, the opener, broke the shackles with a six over wide long-on but fell soon after while attempting another big hit. Verma, not a regular legspinner, was the most effective bowler among the lot, taking 2 for 12 in four overs.
S Sampath and Vinayak Uthappa gave the innings a much-needed spark with a stand of 31 in 4.3 overs for the fifth wicket. Uthappa top scored with 45, while Sampath chipped in with 14. Sampath even pulled off a reverse paddle scoop for four off Aiyappa but the bowler had the last laugh the next delivery when the batsman holed out to extra cover.
The Bangalore openers, Naidu and MK Manjunath, began on a steady note with a stand of 48. Naidu eased to 33 before edging to the wicketkeeper while trying to cut Ramling Patil. Bangalore were still well-placed to win at 101 for 3 in the 16th over before two late strikes by Vinay Kumar made them sweat a bit towards the end. SK Jain hung around to steer his team home with an unbeaten 28. Belagavi, to their credit, took the game till the 20th over, but their showing in the field didn't hide the fact that they fell at least 20 runs short.