Nair, Aiyappa to the rescue

Presidents XI recover, set KSCA XI a target of 236 to make it to title round

Poised To Strike: Karun Nair of President’s XI steps out to drive left arm-spinner Sunil Joshi en route to his 94 against KSCA XI at the Chinnaswamy stadium in Bangalore on Tuesday. DH photo

Electing to bat, President’s XI were close to getting bundled out at 107 for seven, but the perseverance of Nair (94, 244m, 191b, 13x4, 1x6) and Aiyappa (55, 138m, 107b, 5x4, 2x6) guided them to 235 on the first day of the two-day semifinals of the KSCA all-India invitation tournament here on Tuesday. In reply, KSCA XI finished the day at 20 for no loss.

Nair and Aiyappa, who added 63 runs for the eighth wicket, displayed remarkable spirit after they were left to do the bulk of work. The aggressive KSCA XI bowlers and the enormity of the situation did not perturb them as the duo went about its task of repairing the damage meticulously.

But it was not a mere bloody-minded effort. There were flashes of brilliance as well. Nair’s inside-out shot over cover off veteran left-arm spinner Sunil Joshi that went for a maximum and Aiyappa’s spanking drives off the KSCA XI tweakers were examples of that.

Just as the alliance looked impregnable, a silly piece of batting cost Nair his wicket. After carting Udit Patel for two successive fours to move to 94, the elegant right-hander attempted to heave the offie over mid-off but he could only manage to offer a tame catch to Aniruddha Joshi. At 170 for eight, there was some more work to do, and Aiyappa along with DV Anish milked 65 runs for the ninth wicket to carry President’s XI well past the 200-run mark.

Earlier, the start President’s XI made belied their predicament later. Openers Nithin Bille and Nair added 54 at a brisk pace to raise visions of a huge score. Sunil Joshi inflicted the first blow, jettisoning Bille, caught at mid-off by A Mithun, and the dismissal triggered a collapse. President’s XI lost Amit Verma and skipper C Raghu in quick succession with Akhil donning the role of the destroyer. Speed is not the lanky all-rounder’s forte, but he can keep batsmen in check maintaining a tight line and length.

With in-form duo Sunil Raju and Stuart Binny to follow, President’s XI might have cherished hopes of getting a bigger score. Paceman R Vinay Kumar, the most successful bowler for KSCA XI, soon snuffed out those hopes sending Sunil and Binny on their way to push President’s XI to 100 for five. But there was more trouble brewing. Vinay, who managed to procure good swing and bounce, packed off P Yogesh and S Aravind to reduce them to 107 for seven before Nair stemmed the rot in the company of lower order batsmen.

Brief scores: At M Chinnswamy stadium: KSCA President’s XI: 235 all out in 82.3 overs (Karun Nair 94, NC Aiyappa 55, DV Anish 33, Nitin Bille 34; R Vinay Kumar 4-57, B Akhil 3-17) vs KSCA XI: 20/0 in 8 overs. At NRA grounds: Dr DY Patil Sports Academy: 196 all out in 45.4 overs (Including 30 runs penalty) (N Parab 44; M Mangela 4-39, H Singh 3-2) vs Air India Sports Club: 134/4 in 27 overs (Robin Uthappa 36, S Marathe 59).

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