Mohammed Azharuddeen played one of the great T20 knocks in domestic cricket to power Kerala to a stunning eight-wicket victory over Mumbai in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament at the Wankhade Stadium in Mumbai on Wednesday.
It was the first ever victory for Kerala over Mumbai in any form of cricket at the senior level.
The 26-year-old opener, named after the stylish former India batsman Mohammed Azharuddin, made an unbeaten 137 off just 54 balls (9×4, 11×6) to make light of what appeared a stiff target of 197. He put on 129 for the first wicket with Robin Uthappa (33, 23b, 4×4) in 57 balls.
Uthappa was content to play the second fiddle while Azharuddeen unleashed an array of gorgeously-timed graceful shots all around the park. By the time Uthappa fell lbw to left-arm spinner Shams Mulani, the game had slipped away from Mumbai. Captain Sanju Samson joined Azharuddeen but was caught behind off Tushar Deshpande when just seven runs were required.
Fittingly, Azharuddeen played the winning shot, a huge six over mid-wicket off Siddhesh Lad.
Earlier, Mumbai, after being put in, was served well by its top-order, which had crumbled against Delhi in the first match. Yashasvi Jaiswal (40, 32b, 4×4, 2×6) and Aditya Tare (42, 31b, 4×4, 1×6) put on 88 for the opening wicket. Skipper Suryakumar Yadav (38, 19b, 4×4, 2×6) was delectable as usual.
Seamer K.M. Asif was the pick of the Kerala bowlers, claiming three wickets in the last over of the innings.