R. Sai Kishore gave himself the perfect birthday gift with a four-wicket haul that included a hat-trick (4/28) and C. Hari Nishaanth slammed a brilliant unbeaten 75 (49b, 2×4, 6×6) to help Tamil Nadu beat Pondicherry comprehensively by eight wickets in the Syed Mushtaq Ali (Elite Group A) T20 tournament in Lucknow on Saturday.
Asked to bat first, the Pondicherry innings never got going as the TN bowlers picked up wickets each time a partnership threatened to take shape to restrict the former to just 129 thanks to Sai Kishore and M. Mohammed’s twin strikes.
Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2021 Group A: Tamil Nadu clinches a thriller against Odisha
The 25-year-old left-arm spinner has become a dependable bowler in the death overs and delivered three wickets in the final over after being hit for a six off the first ball.
Fabid Ahmed was the first of his victims in the final over, caught at long-off by T. Natarajan before left-handed Iqlas Naha hit straight to the same fielder. Subodh Bhati then tried to slog sweep the spinner and got a top-edge which was taken by wicketkeeper N. Jagadeesan to complete the hat-trick.
Chasing a modest target, Hari was slow to start going at a strike rate of just 50 until he got into double figures. After the fall of Jagadeesan, B. Aparajith came out with positive intent and the duo quickly found a higher gear taking on the spinners. They struck a six each off Ahmed’s final over hitting down the ground and from there on TN made quick work of the chase despite losing Aparajith in the tenth over.
Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2021 Group E: Third win in a row for Delhi, Hyderabad
The left-handed Hari used the sweep shot to good effect and was not afraid to take on the Pondicherry off-spinners in hitting it against the turn as he plundered six sixes in his knock to help TN chase down the target in just 16.1 overs and post its third straight win of the competition.
In the other Group A matches, Maharashtra defeated Odisha by 27 runs thanks to skipper Ruturaj Gaikwad slamming his third consecutive half-century (81) and left-arm medium-pacer Divyang M Himganekar’s four-wicket haul.
Punjab had a walk in the park with an 81-run win over Goa thanks to Prabhsimran Singh’s unbeaten 119 (61b, 11×4, 6×6) that helped his side post a massive 197/4.