Karun Nair entertained a sparse turnout at Eden Gardens with the best knock of the current edition of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy yet. Nair led Karnataka on Wednesday and his 52-ball 100, including eight fours and seven sixes, steamrolled Jharkhand. Chasing 202 for victory, Jharkhand were bundled out for 78. From Karnataka’s perspective, however, things fell in place in a dead rubber.
Karnataka are already out of the tournament, but from Nair’s personal point of view, his blazing ton was a timely reminder to the IPL franchises, just three days before the auction. After two seasons with Delhi Daredevils, the Karnataka batsman will go under the hammer this term. The Daredevils didn’t retain him, choosing Shreyas Iyer instead – Rishabh Pant and Chris Morris are the other two retainees for the franchise. Nair’s second century in the ongoing Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy – he scored 111 off 52 balls against Tamil Nadu in the zonal league – will certainly help increase his stock.
Batting under lights at Eden Gardens is a tricky affair. The ball is moving in the air and off the deck. And the bowlers, willing to bend their back, have been generating extra bounce. Two days ago, Suresh Raina scored a 49-ball century at this venue. But that was a day game and Bengal had a lesser bowling attack compared to Jharkhand. Today, Nair mastered the conditions and decimated Varun Aaron – one of the fastest bowlers around.
Batting first, Karnataka lost Mayank Agarwal in the second ball of the match. Then, the Nair show began, from Aaron’s second over. The first ball went for a four followed by a six and another two boundaries. Against Monu Kumar, who was getting good swing, Nair chose to be a little circumspect, waiting for the loose deliveries. He hardly attempted a slog, revelling in cultured aggression. Even the likes of Kaushal Singh were played on merit. When the Jharkhand bowler missed his line and length, Nair took him to the cleaners. The highlight of his hundred, with a strike-rate of 192.30, was the conversation rate — loose balls had been put away with terrific consistency.
Nair also switched gears with ridiculous ease. After his charge against Aaron in power-play, he focused on rotating the strike before going on the offensive again towards the back end of the innings. Vikash Singh was hit for two sixes and a four in the 16th over.
Brief scores: Karnataka 201/4 in 20 overs (Karun Nair 100, Pavan Deshpande 56) beat Jharkhand 78 all out in 14.2 overs (Sreenath Aravind 2/6, M Prasidh 2/8) by 123 runs
In Kolkata (JU Campus): Umang Sharma scored a 47-ball 95 and Suresh Raina made 56 off 47 deliveries, as Uttar Pradesh beat Baroda by seven wickets in a high-scoring game on Wednesday. UP will play against Delhi tomorrow and their better net run rate gives them an advantage in terms of reaching the final from Group B.
Brief scores: Baroda 192/3 in 20 overs (Urvil Patel 96) lost to UP 195/3 in 18.4 overs (U Sharma 95, S Raina 56) by 7 wickets
In Kolkata (JU Campus): Kanishk Seth’s three wickets and Sudip Chatterjee’s unbeaten half-ton sank Tamil Nadu, as Bengal won by seven wickets. Brief scores: TN 129/9 in 20 overs (K Seth 3/26) lost to Bengal 134/3 in 16.2 overs (S Chatterjee 51*) by 7 wickets
In Kolkata (Eden Gardens): Tajinder Singh rattled 43 off 17 balls and then took two wickets to secure Rajasthan’s third win on the spin in this tournament. Brief scores: Rajasthan 175/6 in 20 overs (Mahipal Lomror 74, Tajinder Singh 43; Dhawal Kulkarni 3/35) beat Mumbai 158/8 in 20 overs (Akhil Herwadkar 68; Deepak Chahar 3/27, Tajinder Singh 2/21) by 17 runs