Binny, Gautam spearhead home teams' charge

KSCA XI to meet Presidents XI in an all-Karnataka title clash

While at the Chinnaswamy stadium defending champions KSCA XI expectedly marched into the title round scoring an emphatic seven-wicket win over Hyderabad Cricket Association, President’s XI had to fight hard for their two-wicket victory over Railways Sports Promotion Board at NRA Palace ground.  

The chief acrhitects of President’s XI and KSCA XI’s wins were CM Gautam (103 n.o., 125b, 21x4) and Stuart Binny (102, 121b, 10x4, 2x6) respectively.

Overnight 137/3, KSCA XI had little problem in overhauling Hyderabad’s target of 232. Gautam, resuming at 53, completed his century that was sprinkled with pleasing cover drives and authoritative pulls. Amit Verma too remained unbeaten on 59 (72b, 12x4).

Gautam’s century didn’t come without its share of drama, enacted mainly by Hyderabad bowlers who were determined to deny the right-hander the three figure score. Stuck on 99 and needing just one run to win, Gautam found himself at the non-striker’s end at the beginning of Shiv Shankar’s over. The off-spinner tried to bowl wide at least on three occasions, but Verma was up to the task to foil the bowler’s designs.

With Gautam on strike now, part-time spinner T Suman bounced the first ball which the umpire declared above-shoulder. One more bouncer and the match would have been over, but Gautam, well aware of what was coming, connected bat to Suman’s rising delivery down the leg to bring up both his century and victory.

Stuart sizzles

President’s XI, with their back firmly to the wall against Railways, found multiple batting heroes in C Raghu (51, 144b, 6x4) and Devraj Patil (53, 88b, 4x4) but none greater than Binny. The right-hander, was involved in two valuable partnerships; 67 runs with Raghu for the fifth wicket and 100 with Patil for the sixth wicket that formed the cornerstone of their stirring come-from-behind victory.

Overnight 11/0, chasing Railways’ 290 all out, President’s XI  found themselves in dire straits at 84 for four. The home side needed loads of grit, determination and a bit of luck too if they were to better the railmen. Not only did they show the stomach for fight but also earned a slice of luck when the nippy Kant retired with a side strain. Didn’t someone say fortune favours the brave!

Binny and Raghu sized up the situation quickly and took gingerly steps, nudging and edging before they found their bearings right. The score of 148/3 at lunch certainly read much better.

Raghu departed soon after lunch, but Binny found another willing ally in Patil. Unafraid to take the odd risk, the two kept the team in hunt even as Railways appeared to be cracking. As Binny grew in confidence he collected runs in robust fashion, lifting spinners over sight screen with little fuss and cutting and driving the pacemen with utter disdain.     

The fiesty right-hander was dismissed soon after reaching his ton, but a fortuitous Patil, chugged along until President’s XI were at a touching distance of victory. Ryan Ninan, with just four runs needed for win, chose to reverse sweep and paid the price. Asghar Pasha stroked the first ball he faced to the fence helping his team cross the line without further drama.       

Brief scores:  At Chinnaswamy: Hyderabad Cricket Association: 231 all out in 71 overs lt to KSCA XI (O/n: 137/3): 255/3 in 45.2 overs (Robin Uthappa 30, CM Gautam 103 n.o., Amit Verma 59 n.o.; Kaneshkk Naidu 2-40).
At NRA: Railway Sports Promotion Board: 290 all out in 94.2 overs lt to KSCA President’s XI (O/n: 11/0): 291/8 in 87.2 overs (C Raghu 51, Stuart Binny 102, Devraj Patil 53; Krishna Kant 2-19, Shreyas Khanolkar 3-37).

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