Dinesh Karthik, the Tamil Nadu skipper, gets ready to face a delivery as Jharkhand stumper Ishan Kishan watches on. Image Credit: Supplied photo

Kolkata: The 2020-21 Indian domestic season, kept on hold for the Coronavirus pandemic, got off to a cautious start with 10 matches of Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament behind played at three cities: Alur near Bengaluru, Kolkata and Vadodara.

A total of six cities with bio-bubbles and 30 elite state teams boasting of an array of top Indian stars who are not a part of the contingent Down Under are taking part in the event. The official T20 event of Indian cricket board, it will also work as a talent-hunting ground for scouts of Indian Premier League (IPL) for the mini-auction to be held on the back of the event.

Suresh Raina grabbed the headlines as he hit a gritty half-century for Uttar Pradesh in their Elite Group A opener against Punjab at Alur in Karnataka. Raina hit 56 form 50 balls but Uttar Pradesh lost the encounter by 11 runs after a late collapse in chase of 135.

In the Elite Group B, Tamil Nadu rode on C. Hari Nishaanth’s unbeaten 92 and skipper Dinesh Karthik’s powerful strikes to defeat Jharkhand by 66 runs in Kolkata. Put to bat first, Tamil Nadu posted a total of 189 for five in their quota of overs while in reply Jharkhand could only manage to score 123 losing seven wickets. 
 Karthik, a seasoned Indian wicketkeeper-batsman and former skipper of Kolkata Knight Riders, said: “First match of the season for us in the T20s and we’ve gotten off to a good start. I think we have been lucky in a lot of places, played some good cricket. It was great to see Hari Nishaanth bat the way he does, putting up partnerships in the opening and in the middle. I am happy to get some touch and get my batting going. Overall I think it was definitely a solid performance.”
 “I think everybody delivered with the ball. They bowled in some good areas, we tried to stick to our plan and we did a good job. Every game is important in this tournament and we’ll try to maintain the intensity as much as possible. Me as a captain very happy with the effort from the boys,” he added. 
 Earlier, a fine half-century from Vivek Singh ensured Bengal register a facile nine wicket victory over Odisha in their first group tie at the JU Salt Lake campus. Chasing 114 to win after Odhisa was bowled out for 113 in their 20 overs, Bengal reached the target in 12.2 overs losing one wicket, with Vivek Singh and debutant Suvankar Bal remaining unbeaten on 54 and 34, respectively.