Cricket

Can Maharashtra stop a rampant Karnataka?

Run feast: Kadam has been in terrific form.

Run feast: Kadam has been in terrific form.   | Photo Credit: BiswaranjanRout

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The Southern powerhouse, which has won 11 games on the trot, seeks maiden T20 title

The volatile nature of the T20 format has suddenly turned the focus on Maharashtra’s big-hitter Nikhil Naik. Following a bright showing in the Syed Mushtaq Ali tournament four years ago, Kings XI Punjab chose him for the 2016 IPL season. He, however, got just two opportunities.

Naik continues to be Maharashtra’s mainstay in T20s as his blistering 58-ball unbeaten 95 (4x4, 8x6) in its final Super League match against Railways showed.

Promoted to No. 3, he made his presence felt, hammering five sixes in the 20th over sent down by medium-pacer Amit Mishra. Naik swung a full toss over square-leg and followed it up with four lofted shots between long-off and the straight field.

Can Maharashtra stop a rampant Karnataka?

Maharashtra’s batting line-up comprising skipper Ruturaj Gaikwad, Rahul Tripathi, Ankeet Bawane, Naushad Shaikh and Vijay Zol, will be tested against the likes of seamers R. Vijay Kumar, Prasidh Krishna, and Vasuki Koushik, and left-arm spinner Jagadeeshan Suchith. The final on Thursday will feature two teams that have played relentless cricket and Karnataka will aim for its first T20 title on the back of a 11-match undefeated run this year, starting with the qualifying rounds at Cuttack.

The Karnataka batsmen’s task has been made easier by its bowling department’s wicket-taking ways. Opener Rohan Kadam (476 from 11 matches) needs to score nine runs in take his aggregate post Shreyas Iyer’s 484.

After a work-out under the lights on Wednesday, Karun Nair said: “It’s been a collective effort with everyone chipping in at the right time. Barring a couple of occasions when the individuals took the game away (from opponents), it has been a team performance.”

Maharashtra won the title 10 years ago, defending a total of 119 against Hyderabad in the final played here.

Maharashtra has replaced the injured Rohit Motwani with Mukesh Choudhary.

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2020 11:20:52 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/cricket/can-maharashtra-stop-a-rampant-karnataka/article26525088.ece

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