KSCA XI wallop Air India for title

Hosts score a comprehensive 137-run win to clinch the crown for second time in three years

The KSCA XI, winners of the KSCA All-India Invitation tournament on Saturday. STANDING (from left): David  Mathias, CM Gautam, K Sanath Kumar (coach), Sunil Joshi (captain), VS Thilak Naidu, B Akhil, KB Pawan, Bharat Chipli.  SQUATTING: A Mithun, Sinan Abdul Khader, Mohammad Arif, R Vinay Kumar, Deepak Chougule, Udit B Patel. DH Photo

Having seen KSCA XI amass 395 on day one of the title clash on Friday, Air India Sports Club needed at least a couple of their top-order batsmen to fire if they were to scale down that total. Instead, last year’s beaten finalists crumbled to 87 for five at the interval on Saturday, and were forced to settle for second best yet again.

Set a revised target of 336 in 85 overs, Air India were bowled out for 198, KSCA XI regaining the title last won in 2007 with a comprehensive 137-run triumph.

Sunil Joshi had a relatively quiet time of it with the ball, but the skipper was in the forefront of things as a leader. After play began an hour late due to bad light and a light drizzle, Joshi pulled off a masterstroke -- as it turned out -- by tossing the new ball to off-spinner Udit Patel, hoping to appeal to the batting ego of Robin Uthappa.

Uthappa stood as the biggest stumbling block for the team he will represent later in the season. Unsurprisingly, the right-hander took up the challenge; from Joshi’s point of view, he rose to the bait too as he slog-swept Patel to deep mid-wicket, where a gleeful A Mithun accepted the offering. Strike one in the sixth over, dangerman Uthappa gone for 11, KSCA XI over the moon at a plan that came off.

Patel was to strike thrice more on his way to figures of four for 65. By then, form bowler R Vinay Kumar had backed up Uthappa’s dismissal by getting rid of Manvinder Bisla the following over, and Air India knew they were in a scrap.

Their best batsman all tournament long, opener Sushant Marathe, looked in the mood as he made his way to 36 until leading-edging a Patel drive to point. When Prashant Naik and Rohan Kerkar fell in quick succession, it was 75 for five, and all over bar the shouting.
Only skipper Hrishikesh Kanitkar, batting with a runner and with panache, defied the KSCA XI bowling with an attractive half-century, but this was a day when Joshi the captain could do no wrong. After Vinay had ended a stubborn sixth-wicket stand by getting a short ball to ping Ankit Chavan on his nose on its way to the stumps -- talk about insult to injury -- Joshi turned to the till-then unutilised B Akhil as Kanitkar and Mandeep Mangela frustrated the hosts by adding 49 for the eighth.

Akhil got rid of Kanitkar with his fourth delivery, caught behind by Thilak Naidu, and took a spectacular left-handed return catch in his next over to end Mangela’s resistance.
KSCA XI picked up the winners’ cheque of Rs 1 lakh while Air India were richer by Rs 50,000. Manish Pandey, missing the second day’s play with fever, was named man of the match for his century the previous day.


Brief scores: KSCA XI: 395 all out in 98.2 overs bt Air India Sports Club: 198 all out in 51.3 overs (Sushant Marathe 36, Hrishikesh Kanitkar 59; Udit Patel 4-65, B Akhil 2-7). Revised target 336 in 85 overs.

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