Although their last game was washed away by rain, Belagavi Panthers have already qualified for the semi-finals after finishing on top of the table with 7 points and a superior run-rate. They will play against Bijapur Bulls, who stand in the 5th position with 6 points, in their last league game of the season, on 18th September at Hubli. The Bulls need to fight their way into the semis as other teams are positioned at a better place due to run-rate; they recently defeated Bengaluru Blasters by 1 run in a rain-affected game to keep their hopes alive and had outsmarted Hubli Tigers by 4 wickets prior to that. Both teams are in good form to keep their winning momentum going; it needs to be seen if the Bulls can overcome the Panthers and make it through to the next stage.
Spinner Krishnappa Gowtham’s smashing 4-wicket haul at an economy rate of fewer than 6 runs per over helped them defend 154 against Bellary Tuskers in the last match. Subhang Hegde, Kishore Kamat, and Sreenath Aravind also dismissed one opponent each to steer the team to victory by 25 runs. Earlier, top-order batsman Stalin Hoover posted a well-made 62 to build a good foundation; he was supported well by Manish Pandey, Sharath and Rakshith to take the total to a humble 154.
Against Mysuru Warriors also they emerged victorious by 30 runs after defending 180 runs successfully thanks to a disciplined show by Binny, Hegde, and Machaiah, who provided 2 breakthroughs. All-rounder Stuart Binny played a good knock with the bat too, posting an unbeaten 52 off just 28 deliveries while Manish Pandey, Rakshith, and Kishore Kamat took the scoreboard to 180.
The recent victories have made them the first team to qualify for the semi-finals and the players will be motivated to finish the league with another win before facing the knock-outs.
Their last match against Bengaluru Blasters was shortened in the second innings to 9 overs; Abhimanyu Mithun took a crucial wicket in the 3rd over with an economy of fewer than 5 runs per over and helped them restrict the Blasters to 64 along with help from Sharath, who took 1 more wicket. They won the match by a whisker through the VJD method and accumulated two more points to stay alive. Earlier, Diskshanshu Negi top-scored with 36 off 28 but others like Mohammad Taha, Nidish and Sharath failed to impress. Bharath Chipli, Naveen, Kiran and Ronit More pitched in with some runs to take the total to a humble 125 runs in 20 overs.
Against Hubli Tigers, they successfully chased down 160 runs after a splendid show by opener Mohammad Taha, who posted 83 off just 45 deliveries to give them a solid foundation. However, they suffered some setbacks when captain Bharath Chipli, Negi and Shekawat fell cheaply. Nidish and Kiran revived the innings and steered the team across the finish line by scoring 29 and 20 runs respectively.
They have an uphill task at hand in the upcoming match but if they can strategize well with the ball and secure a good total if batting first, then the Bulls could try to make it through to the next stage.
Belagavi Panthers have been consistently performing well and are in a winning momentum currently; Bijapur Bulls have good resources in batting and bowling and can give tough time to the Panthers. However, Belgavi Panthers have done incredibly well in this season and we feel that they will pull out some more tricks from up their sleeves to emerge victorious yet another time on Monday.