Ruturaj Gaikwad scored his third straight half-century (81 off 47 balls) and powered Maharashtra to a 27-run win over Odisha in an Elite Group A match of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy T20 cricket tournament in Lucknow on Saturday. (More Cricket News)
In another group match, defending champions Tamil Nadu chased down 130 in 16.1 overs against Pondicherry to register their third consecutive win. In the Maharashtra-Odisha match, skipper Gaikwad won the toss and opted to bat and led the way for the team.
After scoring fifties against TN and Punjab, the stylish right-hander toyed with the Odisha attack and shared a 131-run partnership for the second wicket with India discard Kedar Jadhav, who made 55 from 35 balls.
The quickfire partnership which came in less than 12 overs put Maharashtra on track for a big score. Gaikwad played his trademark elegant drives and did not hesitate to go for the big shots. His dismissal in the 15th over, came as some relief for the Odisha bowlers as the rest of the batters could not continue in same vein.
In reply, Odisha lost skipper Rajesh Dhupar with the score at 18 and save for a 56-run second-wicket partnership between Anshuman Rath (34) and Subhranshu Senapathi (27), the batters could not take the fight to the Maharashtra bowlers.
Left-arm medium-pacer Divyang Himganekar was the best bowler for Maharashtra, returning figures of 4/35. Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu skipper N Jagadeesan sent Pondicherry into bat and the bowlers, left-arm spinner R Sai Kishore in particular, never allowed them to get going.
Ragu (32) Fabid Ahmed (27) and captain D Rohit (25) made contributions but the team could only muster 129/8 in 20 overs. Left-handed opener C Hari Nishaanth powered his way to an unbeaten 75 off 49 balls as Tamil Nadu overhauled the target in the 17th over.
Pondicherry 129/8 in 20 overs (Ragu 32, Fabid Ahmed 27, R Sai Kishore 4/28) lost to Tamil Nadu 130/2 in 16.1 overs (C Hari Nishaanth 75 not out, B Aparajith 28, Sagar P Udheshi 2/22) by eight wickets. TN: 4 points, Pondicherry: 0.
Maharashtra 183/8 in 20 overs (Ruturaj Gaikwad 81, Kedar Jadhav 55, Debrata Pradhan 3/37, Bikash Rout 2/29) beat Odisha 156 all out in 18.5 overs (Anshuman Rath 34, Abhishek Raut 29, Divyang Himganekar 4/35, Ashay Palkar 3/13) by 27 runs. Maharashtra: 4 points, Odisha: 0.
Punjab 197/4 in 20 overs (Prabhsimran Singh 119 not out (61 balls, 11X4, 6X6), Shubman Gill 40, Abhishek Sharma 25) beat Goa 116/8 in 20 overs (Suyah S Prabhudesai 30, Siddharth Kaul 3/21, Harpreet Brar 2/12, Mayank Markande 2/29) by 81 runs. Punjab: 4 points, Goa: 0.