Bangalore: The Toyota University Cricket Championship is becoming a one-man show. Skipper Kaunain Abbas kept his cool in a pressure game and guided Southern Champs Jain University Bengaluru to their third successive group A win at the Chinnaswamy Stadium on Thursday night. Abbas' unbeaten 44 off 47 balls consigned Northern Stallions Aligarh Muslim University to a five-wicket defeat in their first match of the tournament.
After the home team was reduced to 63 for four, Man of the Match Shreyas Gopal played a cameo 19 off 15 balls and his 37-run stand with Abbas, the tournament's highest scorer with 246 runs, guided the Rohinton Baria champions within sniffing distance of a win. Abbas sealed victory with a smashing boundary at mid-wicket and the Jain boys won with eight balls to spare.
Aligarh, defending their unimpressive 105 for nine after winning the toss on a batting track, made a rousing start with pacers Mansoor Ahmad and Ravindra Singh generating pace and bounce. Jain University were reduced to four for 2 wickets in the fourth over and Aligarh looked like striking back with vengeance. But a 44-run third wicket stand between Samarth Ravi Kumar (25 off 24 balls) and Abbas not only arrested the slide but put the innings back on course again.
Earlier, a professional combination of spin bowling and brilliant catching helped the Southern Champs restrict Aligarh to a modest score. A very tactical Jain University used their spinners well on a lovely batting track to choke the Aligarh batsmen who loved to play their strokes but didn't know when.
The spin troika of Shashindra, Daniel Sequeira and Gopal (3 for 12) bowled tight spells and forced the top order Aligarh batsmen to making elementary mistakes. And Jain's field was outstanding. Liyan Khan's catch at point to get rid of the dangerous Abhinav Kataria for 13 and Gopal's caught and bowled effort against Danish Ali was nothing short of world class.
Yasir Kaleem was Aligarh's best batsman with a 32-ball 30, but he ran out of partners who tried to hit their way out but without luck. The best Aligarh stand between Vipin Kumar (17) and Ahmad Kirmani (16) was worth 30 runs.
It was a great team effort by the Bengaluru boys.