The cheers in the Punjab dug-out grew louder with each stroke off Abhishek Sharma and Mandeep Singh’s bats as the duo powered the team into the final of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy with a six-wicket win over Delhi at the PCA IS Bindra Stadium on Saturday.
Abhishek’s 77 and Mandeep’s unbeaten 63 had the small crowd on its feet as Punjab chased down the 184-run target with eight balls to spare.
A cover drive for four got Abhishek going, but the situation was such that the opener had to be circumspect after losing three partners inside the PowerPlay. However, he shifted gears when took on Suyash Sharma — who had been impressive for Delhi in the tournament — and hit him for a six and four off the first two deliveries of his spell.
With Suyash leaking runs, captain Yash Dhull had to turn to part-time bowlers like Ayush Badoni to fill in. Abhishek and Mandeep found the fence regularly during their 102-run stand off 58 balls. Mandeep smashed Pradeep Sangwan for 21 runs in the 15th over as Punjab cruised home.
Earlier, Badoni’s 80 off 57 balls was the highlight as Delhi scored 183 for seven after being put in to bat on a slow wicket. It didn’t prove enough once Abhishek and Mandeep got going.
The second semifinal took a dramatic turn in the 12th over when Baroda pacer Abhimanyusingh Rajput had Assam’s Riyan Parag caught at deep midwicket. Krunal Pandya’s side then took control as Abhimanyusingh’s four-for restricted the opponent to 144.
In reply, openers Ninad Rathva (44) and Jyotsnil Singh (37) showed composure even as the super soppers and the ropes were brought into play between overs due to the dew.
The two added 81 off 41 balls, with Rathva being the aggressor. His runs came off just 26 balls and he perished when he was caught in the deep trying to hit his second six.
Jyotsnil, however, pushed Assam on to the backfoot, hitting three sixes and a four off Parag’s first four balls of the game as Baroda won by six wickets with 23 balls to spare.
Delhi 183/7 in 20 overs (Anuj Rawat 34, Ayush Badoni 80 n.o., Siddharth Kaul 3/27) lost to Punjab 184/4 in 18.4 overs (Abhishek Sharma 77, Mandeep Singh 63 n.o.).
Assam 143 in 20 overs (Rishav Das 48, Denish Das 32, Abhimanyusingh Rajput 4/29) lost to Baroda 146/4 in 16.1 overs (Jyotsnil Singh 37, Ninad Rathva 44).