Panthers beat Tuskers to make it to semifinals

Hubli Tigers fail to make last-four stage despite scoring a massive 136-run victory against Rockstars

Panthers beat Tuskers to make it to semifinals

Despite having a str­ong team, Belagavi Panth­ers have struggled to make an impression on this edition of the Karnataka Premier League. But on Wedn­esday, the Panthers struck all the right notes to defeat Bellary Tuskers and book their place in the semifinals.

Panthers were the last team to qualify for the last-four stage at the cost of Hubli Tigers, who despite scoring a massive 136-run win over Rockstars in their final league game failed to make the cut.

Both Panthers and Tigers finished with six points with three wins but the former sneaked ahead on a better net run-rate.

In the semifinals on Thursday, Panthers will take on table-toppers Bijapur Bulls while Mangalore United will clash with Mysore Warriors.  

The eight-wicket win has boosted their points tally to six from as many games, and are now involved in a two-way race with Hubli Tigers for a semis berth. Panthers took the steps to victory through their bowlers.

The R Vinay Kumar-led unit produced a thrifty effort with the ball as Panthers restricted Tuskers to a paltry 108 for six in 20 overs. Opener Mayank Agarwal was the only exception to the crawl around him, rattling a 34-ball 42, a knock studded with six hits to the fence. Then the Panthers’ batsmen led by half-centurion and man of the match Mir Kaunian Abbas scaled down the target in just 11.4 overs, also boosting their net run-rate in the process.

Panthers never let the Tuskers’ batsmen off the hook, and it was a collective effort rather than an eye-catching solo raid. None was more impressive than the two veteran pacers in Panthers line-up -- Vinay and NC Aiyappa. Vinay didn’t pick up any wickets but conceded just eight runs from his three overs with the new ball, hardly allowing any early scoring chances for the Tuskers batsmen. At the other end, Aiyappa, who had tasted KPL success with Bangalore Provident in the first season, too was parsimonious and also removed the dangerous Devraj Patil in the slog overs.

Agarwal and his partner at pole position Gaurav Dhiman added 37 runs in 6.5 overs and that remained their most productive phase of the innings as Tuskers hit a trough soon.
It wasn’t a challenging target at all considering the batting strength of the Panthers. But they needed to chase it in quick time to keep their net run rate ahead of Tigers. Abbas made a breezy unbeaten 69 off 41 balls with nine fours and two sixes as Panthers touched the tape with plenty to spare.

Pyrrhic win for Tigers
Needing a big win to edge out Panthers to make the semis, Tigers appeared to have manage the task when they ran up a massive 245/6 in 20 overs with KL Rahul slamming a blistering 106 (51b, 11x4, 4x6).

Tough Tigers restricted Rockstars to 109 all out, it wasn’t good enough to better Panthers’ net run rate.

Brief scores: Tuskers: 108/6 in 20 overs (Mayank Agarwal 42) lt to Panthers: 110/2 in 11.4 overs (Mir Kaunian Abbas 69 n.o.).
Hubli Tigers: 245/6 in 20 overs (KL Rahul 106 n.o., B Akhil 56) bt Rockstars: 109 all out in 19.4 overs (Rajeev 34; S Arvind 3-10, Prasanna Patil 2-20).
Semifinals (Thursday): Belagavi Panthers vs Bijapur Bulls (2.00 pm); Mangalore United vs Mysore Warriors (6.00 pm).

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