By leading Bengaluru Blasters to a 23-run victory over Mysore Warriors in the Maharaja Trophy KSCA T20 Tournament at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium here on Saturday, Jagadeesha Suchith demonstrated his burgeoning reputation as a match-winning all-rounder.
The 28-year-old batted and bowled brilliantly in a player-of-the-match performance (40, 18 balls, 6 fours, 1 six, and 2-19) that helped the Blasters take sole possession of the top spot in the standings and become the first team to secure a berth in the playoffs with 12 points and a match remaining. The Blasters were in the thick of the action in both innings.
The race for the last three playoff spots is extremely competitive and exciting as the Warriors remain on 10 points, the same as the Gulbarga Mystics, but with only one match remaining while the latter have two.
Hubli Tigers are in fourth place with eight points at the end of the ninth and penultimate round of games on Saturday, level with Mangalore United but with one more game remaining.
With just two victories from nine games, the sixth-place squad in the six-team tournament, Shivamogga Strikers, who pulled off an unexpected victory by defeating Mangalore United in the opening match on Saturday, is out of the running.
Therefore, the opening game between the Warriors and the Mystics on Sunday may end up being crucial in determining the playoff lineup.
But the undisputed Saturday night hero was Suchith. After entering the game at No. 6, his side had lost momentum following a strong start, and the left-hander gave the inning the much-needed thrust with some brave hitting.
In the 17th over, the 28-year-old repeatedly hit boundaries off Prateek Jain. The next over, Vidyadhar Patil, he was even more vicious, scoring 21 runs, the highlight of which was a 4-4-6 burst.
Although Suchith, who picked up six wickets in four games for the Sunrisers Hyderabad in the 2022 IPL, lost his wicket in the last over before a brief rain delay, the Blasters were already in command (157-6) thanks to his outstanding batting.
The Blasters got off to a good start as L R Chethan (29, 23 balls, 5 fours) and captain Mayank Agarwal (31, 25 balls, 3 fours, 1 six) contributed 59 runs in the first 6-over powerplay.
Both batsmen were in good shape, and Warriors skipper Karun Nair brought in leg-spinner Shreyas Gopal just as they were ready to prepare to go after the bowling. The strategy was successful right away, as Gopal dismissed Agarwal with his first delivery, a googly that the batsman misread and caught with his middle stump pulled back.
In his second over, Gopal struck once more, this time removing Chethan, the other opener, with a similar delivery, but this time the off-stump was pushed out.
The run rate and the mindset of the next batsmen were impacted by the two wickets of two well-positioned batsmen in the space of 16 deliveries for just 13 runs, as well as the additional wicket of Shivkumar Rakshith, caught leg-before by Gopal in his third over. Gopal finished with superb figures of 3-19 after giving up just one boundary in his fourth over.
In response, the Warriors were unable to begin their pursuit. Losing wickets frequently, including the crucial duo of Pavan Deshpande and captain Nair at a critical stage, further aggravated the situation.
Suchith got into the act at this stage and struck a double blow with successive deliveries to land the sucker punch and finish with 2-19.
Gopal continued to wage a lone and spirited battle for the Warriors, completing his half-century (41 balls, 4 fours, 2 sixes) in the last over, but that could not change the fate of his team.
Bengaluru Blasters 157-6 (L. R Chethan 29, Mayank Agarwal 31, Jagadeesha Suchith 40; Shreyas Gopal 3-19) bt Mysore Warriors 134/9 in 20 overs (Pavan Deshpande 20, Shreyas Gopal 50; Santok Singh 2-23, Ronit More 2-18, Rishi Bopanna 3-31, Suchith 2-19) by 23 runs
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