Southern Champs Jain University, Bengaluru defended a modest 145 and carved out a thrilling six-run win against Western Wolves Mumbai University to enter the final of the Toyota University Cricket Championship on Friday night. Cruising towards a win after their openers gave them a rocking start, Mumbai threw it away as Bengaluru found a bowling hero in Suchith Jagadeesh, who took four wickets 10 runs to nail the home team in a dramatic finish.
Mumbai were coasting to victory with skipper Pradeep Jaiswal in the driver's seat but the script changed suddenly. Jaisal was guilty of throwing his wicket away after scoring a brisk 17-ball 25 and then Mumbai lost four wickets in a space of seven balls to hand Bengaluru the advantage.
It was Bengaluru's ability to keep cool under pressure that helped matters as the Jain boys clicked as a team and the fielders held every catch that came their way. Jagadeesh, playing his first match of the tournament, bowled his left-arm spins to perfection as he scalped the big wickets of Shashank Singh (23) and Jaiswal.
Mumbai were cruising to victory after Jaiswal and Singh produced 46 runs for the third wicket but then madness got the better of the home team batsmen. While Jagadeesh bowled a tight line to let the Mumbai middle order make all the mistakes, it was off-spinner Abdul Majid who removed the dangerous openers Kevin D'Almeida for 21 and Jaideep Pardeshi, who made a 25-ball 33.
D'Almeida was out to a brilliant catch at short third man by Liyan Khan. After the left-hander cut Majid, Khan lunged himself forward and picked up a dipping ball just millimetres from the ground. It was one of the best catches of the championship so far.
But for most parts of the evening, it was Mumbai that held sway. The home found a new hero as leg-spinner S agar Gorivale took two crucial wickets and held as many catches to restrict Jain University, to a modest 145 for 6.
Gorivale finished with 2 for 26 and off-spinner Pankaj Jaiswal had identical figures as the free-stroking Bengaluru batsmen found the going tough at the Brabourne Stadium. But for a 62-run stand between skipper Kaunain Abbas (34 off 27 balls) and Gaurav Goel (38 off 42 balls), the Bengaluru innings barely prospered as the visitors lost wickets in a heap between overs No. 13 and 16.
A 20-ball 32 by Batsman of the Match Nihal Ullal lifted the Bengaluru innings to the realms of respectability, but the Mumbai bowlers held their nerves in the death overs to ensure that they didn't lose grip on the match. Bengaluru opted to bat on a good and hard deck but after a sedate start, lost opener Shashindra for a 12-ball 15. The experienced samer Shardul Thakur provided the breakthrough with the first ball he bowled in the match as Shashindra got a leading edge trying to flick and as caught by Gorivale at point.
Even though Goel had settled down, Abbas middle the ball well and turned aggressor as the innings started to prosper. Their 50-run stand came off 37 balls and just as it seemed the prolific Abbas will shift gears, he tried to sweep a fuller ball from Gorivale and was bowled.
Abbas' departure in the 13th over triggered a collapse. The much touted Samarth Ravikumar, who has had a horrible tournament with the tournament so far, continued his bad form and Shreyas Gopal was smartly stumped to give Jaiswal two quick breaks.
Goel lost the chance to become Bengaluru's batting hero when he was bowled trying a Gorivale delivery that hurried off the wicket. It was a poor stroke when the opener who should have batted till the 20th over.
Goel's exit in the 16th over exposed the tail. Mumbai had bowlers like the former Indian under-19 pacer Saurabh Netravalkar who managed to keep the Jain batsmen quite. Ullal's enterprise was the only hurrah as the Bengaluru innings suffered due to lack of partnerships.
But T20 cricket lived up to its glorious uncertainties as Mumbai failed to come good under pressure and threw away a certain victory with several of their top batsmen failing to apply themselves in good batting conditions.