Winning the toss and batting first in a high-pressure final, the JETs started off strongly, lost their way in the middle and resurged thru late order hitting and posted a challenging 169 in their 30 overs. Openers Chakradhar Reddy and Rahul Bandaru paved the way for a strong start with their opening partnership of 66 in 12 overs. With Rahul playing in a lower gear trying to bat thru the innings, Chakri took chances every now and then but otherwise played according to the merit. The first breakthrough came in the 13th over when Chakri got out for a well-made 32 to the Off spin of Arun Ghanta, the Knights Vice captain. Chakri scored 3 boundaries and a six in his brief innings.
The JETs were 82 for 1 in their 16th over and that’s when the Knights Leggie, Rahul Aggarwal took control over the JETs innings. Possessing a wide variety of deliveries that can move either way, Rahul just stuck with his leg spin to trouble the JETS in the final. He first bowled Vishal Sridhar for 7, then had Anand Kalukuri, the JETs match winner, caught and bowled, then had Varun Mathukumalli and Pardha Phani in the same over.
In a matter of 3 eventful overs, Rahul Aggarwal reduced the JETS to 101 for 5 with all the big wickets already in the shed. Rahul Bandaru, the JETS opener who was all the while holding the innings from the other end also got out soon after to the bowling of Arun Ghanta. The JETs were going nowhere and that’s when they found the support of their lower order batsmen Bhavish Kondaveeti and Chaitanya Donthineni who made a fighting innings against the wall and gave the JETs a challenging total to defend. Bhavish Kondaveeti made 32 from 29 balls that included a huge six while Chaitanya made an aggressive 27 from just 19 balls that included 3 boundaries. Rahul Aggarwal was the pick of the bowlers for Knights finishing with figures of 4 for 33 in his 6 overs.
Chasing 170 to take home the Championship trophy, the Knights started of disastrously losing both their openers within the first 5 overs with Chakri Reddy and Vishva Velichala doing the damage. In came Saravanan Manickavasagam, their eternal savior who has made many a telling contribution this season with the bat. He and Arun Ghanta spent the next 6 overs in just trying to keep the JETS bowlers at bay while picking up useful runs. Arun soon got out to Rahul Bandaru for 15 and that got Vamsidhar Varmakonda in to the middle. Saro and Vamsi then took control of the Knights innings and built a steady partnership. Both ran well between the wickets and didn’t waste any scoring opportunities that came their way.
They both took the Knights to 84 in their 20th over and that’s when Saro got out for a well made 30 that included 4 boundaries. The Knights still needed 79 in the remaining 10 overs and they have always backed themselves to get anything in the last 10 courtesy of their strong lower order batting. Vamshi took the lead and stayed put while the others came and played the much-needed cameos on the other end. Jayaram made 8 from 7, Alisaud made a run a ball 13. With 31 needed from the last 4 overs, Vamsi decided to go for the kill and hit Vishva for a huge six over long on but Vishva had the last laugh by claiming the wicket of Vamsi for 41 in the same over.
The Knights needed 21 from the last 3 overs and that was familiar territory for Ijaz Safi and Rahul Aggarwal who have made many significant lower order contributions throughout the season. Both saw the Knights through without much damage with 3 balls to spare. Ijaz was not out on 14 from 9 balls while Rahul made 11 from 8 balls. For his match winning 4 wicket haul and a brief cameo that took the Knights over the line, Rahul Aggarwal was adjudged the Man of the Match while The Knights of Albany became the 30 overs Empire League champions.
Knights of Albany beat Good Vibes in a one-sided game and make the Finals
Winning the toss and batting first, the Knights of Albany showed off their batting might and posted an above par 205 in their 30 overs. Saravanan Manickavasagam once again stole the show with his brilliant half century that came in just 45 balls and that included 8 delightful boundaries. Saro, who has a game to suit all formats, hit shots all-round the park and showed everyone what a class player he is. His ability to soak pressure coupled with his excellent match awareness is what makes him the consistent player that he is. He came in to the middle at the 7th over when the Knights were 33 for 1 and got out in the 20th over when the Knights were 123 for 3. The other Knights middle order and lower order batsmen then took the mantle and kept the foot on the gas throughout the innings. Arun Ghanta made 25, Jayaram made run a ball 19, Ijaz Safi made 13 while Rahul Aggarwal made 18 from just 12 balls. For the Good Vibes, Steven Mangal picked up 3 wickets.
Chasing an improbable 206 to claim a spot in the finals, the Good vibes got bundled for 113. Good Vibes started off with positive intent trying to take on the Knights from the beginning. But that meant they also exposed themselves to loss of quick wickets and that’s exactly what happened. The ever-dependable Mahesh Raghunandhan, the Good vibes opener, got out cheaply for 9 while their skipper Steven Mangal got out for 7. Renny played some crisp shots and kept the hopes alive but he too got out soon. The Knights continued to make inroads into the good Vibes and with the ever-climbing run rate on the other side, the Good Vibes finally got bundled for 113 in 20 overs. For the Knights Arun Ghanta and Karthik Yelti picked up 3 wickets a piece. For his brilliant half century that set the pace of the match, Saravanan Manickavasagam was adjudged the Man of the match.
JET Albany roll over the Gujarat Lions in the other semifinals and make the Finals
After winning the toss and batting first, Gujarat Lions posted a respectable total of 142 in their 30 overs. Their opener Anis Vohra top scored with 30 in 43 balls that had 3 boundaries in it. Bhavik Dalsania made 27 in 29 balls while Ajaypal Reddy made an aggressive 23 in 16 balls. All their top order batsmen and the middle order batsmen got on to the double figures but none of them went on to a make a big score as a result Gujarat Lions finished on 142. For the JETs, Vishal Sridhar and Vishva Velichala picked up 3 wickets each.
Chasing 143 to win, the Jets rallied on their opener Chakri Reddy and their number 3 Vishal Sridhar and reached the target in 27 overs. Chakri helped the JETs set the early pace in the chase with his knock. He departed in the 14th over after making 35 in 46 balls that had 5 boundaries and a huge six. Vishal Sridhar coming in at 3 stayed till the end of the chase while making a patient 28 that had a boundary and a six. The usually stringent Gujarat Lions bowling unit didn’t help their cause by conceding a whopping 41 extras with 38 wides. For his all-round effort picking 3 wickets and scoring 28*, Vishal Sridhar was adjudged the man of the match.
Knights warm up for the playoffs with a close win over DB-ES
Winning the toss and batting first, DB-ES posted a competitive 145 at the end of 30 overs. Their opener Akshay Kumar played thru most of the innings and scored 34 in 47 balls that included 3 boundaries and a six. None of the other batsmen as the Knights picked up wickets at regular intervals. Db-ES finished at 145 with some help from the Knights as they conceded 41 extras. For the Knights Jayaram Manukonda picked up 4 wickets in his 6 overs.
Chasing 146 to win, the DB-ES made a fist of a fight as they pushed Knights till the last over the innings. But the collective strength of Knights batting once again carried them over the line. Their skipper Raj Ardham made 33 while Saravanan Manickavasagam made 22. For DB-ES Sai Pathakumari and Dilip Kallepali picked up 2 wickets a piece. For his 4-wicket haul that set up the game for the Knights, Jayaram was adjudged as the Man of the match.
Panthers beat the dominant JETs in their final league game
Winning the toss and batting first, JET Albany posted 149 in their 30 overs. Vishal Sridhar made 21 in 27 balls while Varun Mathukumalli coming in at 3 made 37 in 46 balls Chakri Reddy and Prashanth Alamela provided the finishing touches with their brief cameos 15 and 14 respectively. For th Panthers, Salman Pervez continued his excellent form with the ball with a 3-wicket haul in 4 overs.
Chasing 150 to win, Panthers lost their openers in the first 3 overs. But it was the turn of their talisman Kiran Vishnu to take the charge and what a way he did by playing the anchor through the innings. He defied the JETS attack for most of the innings while put away the loose balls. In all he faced 77 balls and scored 47 with 4 boundaries in it. Ravi Soda gave him able company with a run a ball 24. Anvesh Chikulapalli finished off the chase with a run a ball 18. For the JETs, Vishva Velichala picked up 3 wickets. For his match winning innings that defied the JETS and won the game for Panthers, Kiran Vishnu was adjudged the Man of the Match.