Hubballi, Sep 19: R Samarth's brilliant 54-ball unbeaten 87 propelled champions Bijapur Bulls to their first win in the fifth edition of the Karnataka Premier League (KPL) Twenty20 tournament, at the KSCA stadium in Rajnagar on Monday afternoon (September 19).
Bulls' most experienced pair, the talented Samarth and the hard-hitting Robin Uthappa made light of a stiff target set by Hubli Tigers and registered a commendable 7-wicket win with 2 balls to spare in front of an excellent crowd that wildly cheered their heroes.
One has to sympathise with Hubli Tigers. On a fresh pitch that was ideal for batting they were put in to bat and they appreciated the gesture by running up an excellent total of 188 for 7 in the allotted 20 overs.
But Bijapur Bulls who lost their opening match to Belagavi Panthers were in no mood to let this match also slip from their grasp. They pounded their opponents with an impressive first wicket partnership of 48 runs in five overs through R Samarth and MG Naveen (20; 16b, 1x6, 2x4) to set the stage for a successful chase.
The fall of Naveen brought skipper Uthappa to the batting crease and the Karnataka pair kept the score-board ticking over with an assortment of singles, twos and punishing boundaries.
Samarth (87 n.o, 54b, 3x6, 7x4) and Uthappa (51, 33b,1x6, 6x4) added 112 runs in 66 balls to totally subdue Hubli Tigers.
"It was an ideal T20 pitch. The ball was coming on to the bat nicely and permitted free strokeplay," said Man-of-the-match Samarth.
Earlier, openers Taha (89; 56b, 7x6, 5x4) and Abhishek Reddy (42; 33b, 2x6, 3x4) got the Hubli team off to a flying start in the power play overs. Taha, in particular, was in punishing form and hammered the bowlers at will. The pair blasted the Bulls bowling attack to all parts of the ground and often out of it.
Amid all the clean-striking, Abhishek Reddy (42, 2x6, 3x4) played an able second fiddle to Taha, before becoming Sinan's first wicket of the match.
Some valuable contributions from Chethan William (18) and skipper Kunal Kapoor (14) lifted the Tuskers to a competitive 188 for 7 in 20. But, as we saw later in the match, Samarth and Uthappa went one better on the Hubli duo of Taha and Reddy to guide their team to the impressive victory.
Hubli Tigers: 188/7 in 20 overs (Mohammed Taha 89, Abhishek Reddy 42; Stallin Hoover 2/32 ) lost to Bijapur Bulls: 191/3 in 19.4 overs (Samarth 87 not out, Uthappa 51, Abhimanyu Mithun 2/48, Sinan 2/28, Naveen MG 2/23) by 7 wickets.