Mysuru: Aniruddha Joshi cemented his position as a bona fide legend in the Karnataka Premier League (KPL) with one of the finest knocks under pressure as Mysuru Warriors did the unthinkable in chasing 241 runs against Ballari Tuskers at the SDNR Wadiyar stadium on Monday (August 26). 

Joshi's staggering 125 from 58 balls and an equally important nine-ball 30 from Manjesh Reddy helped the Warriors reach 241/7 in 20 overs in response to Tuskers’ 240/2 in the allotted quota of overs in the 19th match of the KPL 2019.

Picture this. Tuskers won the toss, elected to bat and scored the second-highest score in KPL history on the back of a 92 not out from skipper CM Gautam. The Warriors stuttered to 34/3 before Joshi, the second-highest paid cricketer this season at Rs 7.1 lakh, took the game away from Tuskers.

That said, when Joshi was dismissed by K Gowtham in the 18th over with the Warriors needing 42 from 18 balls, a significant portion of the 3000-odd people in the stands were beginning to file out.

They only rushed back in when Manjesh brought the equation down to 20 runs in the final over. M Venkatesh’s four followed by his dismissal meant 16 runs were still required. The last four balls read: 2, 6, 2, 6. Manjesh faced each of them.

With this win, Warriors move to third on the table with six points from six games.      

Tuskers, who had qualified for the playoffs before arriving in Mysuru, had only a few overs ago scored the second-highest total in KPL history, eclipsing Bengaluru Blasters’ 228 for 5 against Belagavi Panthers in 2018. The record for the highest score is still held by Hubli Tigers, who smashed 245 for 6 against the Rockstars in 2014.

While Gautam, the Tuskers’ skipper, was the top-scorer with an innovative 92 from 50 balls and Devdutt Padikkal (57 from 31 balls) was on fire, it was Gowtham’s 24-ball 48 that truly dented the Warriors.

After the 75-run second-wicket alliance between Gautam and Gowtham ended, the former added 109 runs with Padikkal to break Warriors’ back.

With nothing to lose, the Warriors’ batsmen swung at it all. Three batsmen didn’t succeed. Joshi, however, was in a different zone, smashing 9 of the 17 total sixes in the innings. It must be noted that he was dropped on 90 by Abhishek Reddy. 

Gowtham was once again special with his bowling, picking up 4 for 28 in his quota, but he could only watch in disbelief from midwicket as Manjesh sealed it with a six over long-on. To summarise, 481 runs were scored in 240 deliveries, and the crowd loved every moment of it.

Earlier in the day, Belagavi Panthers flexed their bowling might to jump to second on the points table after their seven-wicket win over Bijapur Bulls at the SDNR Wadiyar stadium.

 With Manish Pandey sitting this one out, Mir Kaunian Abbas reverted to his role as skipper and guided Panthers to their third successive win after restricting an off-colour Bulls to 136 for 8 in 20 overs.

Pandey, who has scores of 102*, 58* and 53* after missing the first game due to India duty, was missed, not so much as someone they were in dire need of but as someone who gets the crowd going. With under 500 people watching over, R Samarth (50 not out) dug deep to find form as the Panthers finished on 137 for 3 in 17.4 overs to garner seven points after the conclusion of their league commitment.

The Panthers have guaranteed their presence in the playoffs at the end of the six games. At the other end of the spectrum, the Bulls are all-but out of the tournament with three points from five games.

Brief scores

Ballari Tuskers 240/2 in 20 overs (Abhishek Reddy 32, CM Gautam 92, K Gowtham 48, Devdutt Padikkal 57; Vyshak Vijaykumar 2/27) vs Mysuru Warriors 241/7 in 20 overs (Aniruddha Joshi 125, Manjesh Reddy 30 not out; Ruchir Joshi 2/44, K Gowtham 4/28) by three wickets.

Bijapur Bulls 136/8 in 20 overs (Bharath Chipli 33, Bhareth NP 35 not out; Shubhang Hegde 2/17, Avinash D 2/25, Darshan MB 2/19) lost to Belagavi Panthers 137/3 in 17.4 overs (R Samarth 50 not out, D Negi 32, Abhinav Manohar 42 not out; Naveen MG 2/28) by seven wickets.