New Delhi: Southern Champs Jain University, Bengaluru won the inaugural Toyota University Cricket Championship in a low-scoring final against Kent RO Northern Stars Jamia Millia Islamia on Sunday night. In a dramatic match that went all the way to the wire, the Bengaluru boys held their nerves to win by 2 runs.
Bengaluru proved to be the team to beat on the big days when they defended a sub-par total, with India under-19 star Shreyas Gopal playing a brilliant all-round role to first score an unbeaten 83 and then taking 2 for 16 to fork the heart out the Jamia chase. The home team, backed by a strong crowd, managed 120 for seven when their overs ran out.
This was Jain University's second big crown this year. In January, they beat Mumbai University in the all-India Rohinton Baria tournament and on Sunday night, the Bengaluru boys held their nerves, came back from the dumps twice to outsmart the Jamia Millia boys, whose batting failed to click under pressure.
On Friday, Bengaluru had come back from the dead to get past Mumbai University by 6 runs in the second semifinal of the TUCC. For the second time in three days, Bengaluru's slow bowlers did the trick as Jamia's untested middle-order didn't have the guile to pace their innings under pressure.
Jamia's batting proved to be top heavy. Amit Verma, the tournament's fifth highest scorer, again failed on a big day as Bengaluru struck early to send Jamia crashing to five for two wickets in the second over. But a 65-run third-wicket stand between the prolific Shivam Sharma (35) and wicketkeeper Surinder Dahiya (31) resurrected the Jamia innings and put them on course, until some batting lunacy spoilt the home team's chase.
It was Shivam's departure that turned the game on its head in the 12th over. He was the man who should have taken Jamia home, but a rash inside-out stroke against leg-spinner Gopal went horribly wrong. There was more trouble when Dahiya too threw his wicket away holing out at long off in the 14th over.
Some late charge by Abhay Negi (15 off 13 balls) was not enough for Jamia as Bengaluru's slow bowlers tightened the noose with some precision bowling backed by some clean fielding.
Earlier, a 98-run fourth-wicket stand between Man of the match Gopal and Player of the Tournament Kaunain Abbas lifted Jain University to some respectability after the Southern Champs were hit by a tornado by the Jamia Millia quick bowlers. Gopal remained unbeaten on a well-made 83 off 62 balls while skipper Abbas scored a 45-ball 33 to get past 300 runs in the tournament. Bengaluru managed to score 122 for 6 in their 20 overs, a score they definitely didn't bargain for in the final match.
It was a disastrous start for the visiting side as the Jamia quick bowlers took the game by the scruff of its neck. Bengaluru lost three wickets for no score within the first 10 balls as Negi (3/18) and Aashish Chopra (2/22) got the ball to seam on a dry and flat deck. Samarth Ravikumar, who came into the tournament with a lot of runs behind him, continued his horrible form nicking Negi to the keeper.
Chopra, who has delighted Kapil Dev with his bowling action, bagged two wickets in his first over. The right-arm medium pacer got opener Shashindra to edge behind the wickets and then castled the in-form Gaurav Goel with a beauty as the ball nipped back and found the gap between bat and pad.
Then Gopal and Abbas started the rebuilding process. With the Jamia bowlers giving little away, the Bengaluru duo showed great application, building the innings piece by piece. Abbas, the top scorer of this tournament, shunned his normal attacking game and with Gopal put up a 50-ball stand off 41 balls and then shifted gears.
Abbas, who started the day on 280 runs, was lucky to survive a stumping chance on 12. He was finally caught trying attempting a slog sweep, giving the tournament's top wicket-taker left-arm spinner Deepak Sharma his 10th wicket. Abbas scored 33 off 45 balls, his two fours highlighting the pressure under which he had to bat on Sunday night. He was out in the 18th over with Jain University on 98.
Gopal remained Bengaluru's best man to push the scoreboard. Even though the visiting team lost Nihal Ullal and KV Siddharth cheaply, Gopal accelerated as Bengaluru managed 18 runs off the last two overs. At the end of it all, Bengaluru defended like true champions and without a doubt proved their caliber with some outstanding team work.