Bengaluru: Manish Pandey marked his arrival to this year’s Karnataka Premier League (KPL 2019) with an awe-inspiring century to put Belagavi Panthers in the drivers’ seat but Hubli Tigers drove home a point by edging them out in an enthralling contest at the M Chinnaswamy stadium on Wednesday (August 21).

Asked to bat in the second match of the day, the Panthers stuttered to a measly 74/6 in 13 overs, but with Pandey middling the ball as well as he did, there was still hope for a big total. And surely enough, Pandey’s brilliance guided them to 180/7 in 20 overs.

Much to everyone’s surprise, though, the Tigers scored 181/5 in 19.5 overs, thanks mainly to Mohammad Taha’s 55-ball 77 and Pravin Dubey’s unbeaten 18-ball 33, for their first win this season.

With 11 needed of the final over, Dubey slammed a six off a no-ball from Avinash D to finish things off in style, much to Pandey’s dismay. 

Pandey, who returned from national duty only a few days ago, took over from Mir Kaunian Abbas as the skipper and he studded the occasion with a fiery 102 not out from 50 balls with seven fours and as many sixes.

While he ate up 33 balls to get to his 50, he took a mere 17 deliveries to score the remaining 52 runs en route to his second KPL century. This was also the second fastest century in KPL after Mayank Agarwal’s 48-ball ton.

It must be noted that Pandey was dropped twice in an over from Mitrakant Yadav. Pandey was on 31 at the time when he was let off the hook by Vidyadhar Patil and Aditya Somanna, respectively, in the 16th over.

If not for the India A skipper’s belligerence, Tigers’ bowling statistics would have worn a better look. Even still, David Mathias stood out with his two wickets, while Aditya Somanna and Praveen Dubey conceded less than 20 runs each in bowling three overs each.

In pursuit of the massive total, the Tigers looked out of sorts at the start. Luvnith Sisodia (29) provided some fight early on but his dismissal slowed proceedings down since Taha hadn’t yet come into himself. Once Taha got going, runs came more freely, especially during his 58-run third-wicket alliance with KB Pawan.

Taha couldn’t stay the course, losing his wicket to Avinash D with 30 runs needed, but the Tigers rallied on Dubey’s lanky shoulders to pull off a heist under lights.

Relief efforts

Panthers sent out relief material to families affected by the devastating floods in north Karnataka on Wednesday. Each package, containing clothing and provisions, is expected to take care of the basic needs of one person for at least 10 days.

“The people of Belagavi have been supporting us from the beginning without any reservations,” said Ali Asfak Thara. “They have been with us through thick and thin. And in this hour of need, we want to let them know that their support has not gone unnoticed, and we are one of them. We might play in other cities, but we belong to Belagavi. We are Belagavi. The players, the staff, everyone associated with the club, the fans, we are all one.”

Earlier in the day, Bharath Chipli feasted on Mysuru Warriors’ lacklustre bowling performance to give Bijapur Bulls their maiden win.

The Bulls’ skipper blasted the third-fastest half-century in KPL history, to help his side to an eight-wicket win, overshadowing a valiant 73 not out from Warriors’ KV Siddharth.

J Suchith holds the top spot for the fastest half-century in KPL with his 15-ball blitz. Balachandra Akhil is second with a fifty in 17 balls. Chipli’s 20-ball half-century and a final tally of 77 from 40 balls with seven fours and six sixes guided Panthers to 144/2 in 14.4 overs in response to Warriors’ 140/4 in 20 overs.

Brief scores

Belagavi Panthers 180/7 in 20 overs (Manish Pandey 102 not out; Vidyadhar Patil 2/41, David Mathias 2/18) lost to Hubli Tigers 181/5 in 19.5 overs (Luvnith Sisodia 29, Mohammad Taha 75, KB Pawan 22, Pravin Dubey 33 not out; Stallin Hoover 2/35) by five wickets.

Mysuru Warriors 140/4 in 20 overs (KV Siddharth 72 not out, Manjesh Reddy 23, Shoaib Manager 28; Prateek Jain 2/16) lost to Bijapur Bulls 144/2 in 14.4 overs (Bharath Chipli 77, Naveen MG 45; Vyshak Vijay Kumar 2/36) by eight wickets.