Although Baroda’s winning streak was halted by Kerala, the team from West Zone sealed its berth in the final on the basis of their net run-rate. The team from South Zone beat Baroda by 22 runs in the Group B match of the T20 Super League for the Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy in Mumbai in the quest to claim a berth in the final. After setting the opposition a 153-run target, thanks to a late blitzkrieg by Raiphi Gomez (42* off 19 balls), Kerala bowlers restricted Baroda to 130 for eight.
Earlier, opting to field first at Wankhede Stadium, Munaf Patel struck twice in the third over to leave Kerala on 15 for two. He trapped Rakesh KJ leg-before, while Vishnu Vinod pulled to short mid-wicket to follow him back in the hut.
In Krunal’s next over, the bowler was hit over midwicket for six by J Jafar. But he also picked the wicket of Rohan Prem. He dislodged Prem’s bails for 30, and in his next over, he accounted for Sachin Baby’s wicket to leave Kerala on 81 for five.
Jafar Jamal and Raiphi Gomez then took on the Baroda attack to build a 30-ball 55-run stand. While Jamal found the ropes, Gomez joined in gleaning runs off the Baroda bowlers. His 19-ball 42* cameo gave Kerala the necessary impetus. Gomez lofted Munaf over long-on and long-off in the penultimate over. It was on the first ball of the last over that Lukman Meriwala sent back Jamal for 37. However, with P Prasanth for company, Gomez took the team to 152 for six with a big hit off the last ball.
Kedar Devdhar and Aditya Waghmode then came out to chase the competitive score, but the former was run out with the team on 32. Abhimanyu Chauhan was caught by Prem off his own bowling after adding just two to the total. Hardik then joined Waghmode in carrying the innings forward as Baroda looked to seal their spot in the final.
While the Kerala bowlers toiled to create breakthroughs, the pair continued to milk them. Runs came at a steady pace for Baroda as Waghmode led the charge while anchoring the innings. Unbeaten on 46 in his previous innings, Waghmode smashed Rakesh for six to inch towards his half-century, and then ran two to bring up his 50 off 31 balls. However, he handed a catch to the bowler off the next delivery to depart with the team on 87 for three.
He was replaced by Deepak Hooda in the middle. Kerala used as many as seven bowlers as they looked for a wicket. Rohan Prem, who had been more economical of the bowlers, accounted for Hooda. After Hooda perished while taking the aerial route, Abhijit Karmabelkar walked out to the middle and was castled in the next over.
With half the side back in the dressing room and Baroda needing 59 off last five overs, the match was headed for a close finish. Hardik Pandya was dismissed by Rakesh, while a direct hit from extra cover later in the over got rid of Pinal Shah, leaving the team on 105 for seven in the 18th over.
With the match tipped in Kerala’s favour, Arothe joined Krunal in the middle. With the team on 125, Krunal too was sent back by Rakesh in the last over. Arothe and Meriwala then took the team to 130 for eight at the end of their quota of overs.