Karnataka, Delhi, Baroda and Punjab opened their Syed Mushtaq Ali 2019-20 Super League matches with victories on Thursday. The first day of the Super League games had several teams putting up big scores, while Karnataka were the only team to win while chasing. Among others in attendance for the matches were John Wright and Malolan Rangarajan, both on scouting duty for Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore respectively, with the IPL auction slated for December 19.
In other news, Shikhar Dhawan suffered an injury while batting when he dived for his crease to avoid a run-out, and will miss Delhi's next game.
Unbeaten half-centuries by captain Manish Pandey and opener KL Rahul led Karnataka to an easy nine-wicket win after Tamil Nadu had been restricted to 158 for 7. This was the only game played at night, and dew was a factor in the chase, with Tamil Nadu's bowlers unable to grip the ball properly at times. However, the target was too meagre to challenge a strong batting line-up.
Put in to bat, Tamil Nadu sent in the makeshift opening pair of Hari Nishanth and B Aparajith, but the move didn't work with both batsmen struggling for timing and not picking the gaps. Both fell in the sixth over, Aparjith caught in the circle and Nishanth run out via a direct hit by Pandey, to leave Tamil Nadu 26 for 2. Dinesh Karthik and Washington Sundar led the recovery, immediately hitting their stride and lifting the sagging run rate. They put on 76 in 7.4 overs before Karthik became Ronit More's second victim for a 29-ball 43. Tamil Nadu's hopes of a finishing kick were dealt a further blow when Washington was caught off J Suchith for 39 off 25 balls. Vijay Shankar sparkled briefly and dragged the score past 150.
Karnataka's in-form opening pair of Rahul and Devdutt Padikkal then raced to 70 in seven overs, with none of the bowlers troubling them. Padikkal fell against the run of play, sweeping M Ashwin straight to short fine leg for a 20-ball 36. However, Pandey joined Rahul for an unbroken 91-run stand in only 9.2 overs. Rahul ended with 69* off 46, while Pandey had 52* off 33.
Nitish Rana took a career-best 4 for 17 to bowl Maharashtra out for just 90 in 17.2 overs and hand Delhi a 77-run victory.
Put in to bat, Delhi's opening pair of Dhawan and Hiten Dalal were steady more than spectacular, and when both fell within a few minutes of each other, the score was a shaky 44 for 2 in the seventh over. Dhruv Shorey, the Delhi captain, played a crucial knock, steering the innings with an unbeaten 48 off 37 to ensure Delhi's second half was much better than their first. Rana, who had a good all-round day, made 21, while Himmat Singh gave the innings the boost it needed with a 16-ball 32.
Maharashtra's innings stuttered from the start. Only Ruturaj Gaikwad got into double figures, and his 42 off 32 stood in stark contrast to the rest of the line-up. Kedar Jadhav being run out for 8 didn't help Maharashtra. Gaikwad was the eighth wicket to fall, bowled by Rana, who then picked up the remaining two batsmen too.
Delhi's only sore point in the match was a gash on Dhawan's thigh, acquired when he dived to make his crease while completing a run. Dhawan was taken to a nearby hospital to be patched up, and ESPNcricinfo understands that he is likely to miss only one match for Delhi.
We Fall, We Break, but then.... We Rise. We heal and we overcome, and the only thing you have control over is how you respond to any situation. Here's to being positive and happy in every situation that life throws at you. Will be back in action in 4-5 days pic.twitter.com/0XDHRXMSeP— Shikhar Dhawan (@SDhawan25) November 21, 2019
Devdhar (64 off 44) and Waghmode (88 off 50) put on 150 runs for the opening wicket at almost ten runs per over, as Baroda racked up 201 for 5. Aniket Choudhary was the only Rajasthan bowler to emerge unscathed, picking up 2 for 27 in four overs.
Rajasthan had useful contributions throughout the order, with opener Ankit Lamba (54 off 37) and middle-order batsman Arjit Gupta (41 off 21) leading the way, but they needed one of their batsmen to go big. The required rate eventually proved too much for them, as they ended on 186 for 8. Atit Sheth was the most impressive bowler, with 3 for 34.
Jharkhand's decision to field backfired with Abhishek (72 off 44) and Mandeep (81 off 52) piling up 124 runs in 12.3 overs, setting the stage for Punjab to eventually reach 199 for 4. Jharkhand's two left-arm spinners - Shahbaz Nadeem and Anukul Roy - were the only ones to have a measure of success, with Nadeem taking 2 for 27 and Roy returning 1 for 35.
Jharkhand's reply was punctuated by a rash of wickets, as they were all out for 90 in just 14.2 overs. The highest score was opener Utkarsh Singh's 24, with no other batsman crossing 20. Leggie Mayank Markande spun a web around Jharkhand, picking up 3 for 13 and dismantling the chase in the middle overs.
Saurabh Somani is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo