Clinical Aakash Tigers claim last semis spot with win over Lions

An 89-run-partnership between Bhavin Thakkar and Shams Mulani meant that Shivaji Park Lions ended Season 2 without a win.

Aakash Tigers Mumbai Western Suburbs comfortably got past the Shivaji Park Lions to pip the Eagle Thane Strikers to the semi-finals. Bhavin Thakkar played a sublime knock of 65* to compliment another heroic bowling perform ensured there were no last-minute nerves as the Tigers eased through to the knockout stage.

After being put to bat, the Shivaji Park Lions started off brilliantly, scoring two boundaries off the very first over as they managed 17 on the board after two. Openers Onkar Jadhav and Sachin Yadav were looking solid, until Shams Mulani managed to inflict the first breakthrough in the last over of the powerplay to pull the score back at 35 after six.

The wicket though slowed down the charge from the Lions, as they only managed 20 off the next five overs thanks to some disciplined bowling from Arjun Tendulkar and Nehal Katakdhond. The pressure eventually told, as Tendulkar dismissed Sachin Yadav.

Things got worse a couple of overs later as Salman Khan got the well-set captain Raunaq Sharma, courtesy of a splendid low catch by Dhawal Kulkarni. Hardik Tamore tried to resurrect the Lions’ innings with a huge six over deep mid-wicket; but was out the very next ball as he tried to hit another maximum but only found the fielder in the deep.

With the score at 72/4 in the 14th over, the Shivaji Park needed another rebuilding job as Manan Khakhar and Nikhil Patil stepped out to bat. The duo began working the singles and doubles as they slowly built a 50-run partnership together. Khakhar let loose in the 17th over, hitting Khan for two sixes and a four to get the team total past a hundred.

Nikhil Patil too got into the act as he got a six over mid-wicket in the final over of the game, but it was bowler Kulkarni who had the last laugh as he dismissed both him and new man Arun Yadav to ensure the Tigers had to chase a modest total of 128 to book their place in the semi-finals.

In reply, the Aakash Tigers started cautiously, getting 16 off the first three overs as both their openers Tendulkar and Bhavin Thakkar curbed their attacking instincts. However, the very next over Tendulkar tried to release the tension by hitting one over the in-field; but miscued it straight to mid-wicket. New man Siddharth Akre though kept the momentum going with a six on the leg side to help the Tigers get to 37 after the powerplay.

He was however dismissed soon after as a Raunaq Sharma googly totally outfoxed him and trapped him leg before wicket. Matters got worse as keeper-batsman Doraiswamy Subramanian was sent packing for a duck, as the Lions sensed a fightback.

At the halfway stage of the innings, the Tigers found themselves needing 69 more runs with the opener Thakkar well-set after being there since the start. Seeing the pressure building, he decided to take his chances and hit Sharma for nine runs to get the run rate below 6.5 again. His partner Mulani too began to attack, getting two fours off the next over to get the chase down to a run a ball with eight overs remaining.

The pressure was further eased in the next over with a brilliant four over the in-field by Thakkar. With the field spread out, both the Tigers batsman began playing shots to the fielders in the deep to get singles and doubles. Thakkar soon got to his first half-century of the tournament with an off-drive, as the Tigers neared their winning score.

From there on, it was relatively a cruise to victory with two and a half overs to spare, with the team adding 89 runs for the third wicket. The win sees them qualify for the semi-finals at the expense of the Eagle Thane Strikers.  

Score Kya hai?

Aakash Tigers MWS: 131/3 (Bhavin Thakkar 65, Shams Mulani 40, Jai Kothari 1/13) beat

Shivaji Park Lions: 127/6 (Nikhil Patil 37, Manan Khakhar 23, Salman Khan 2/36)

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