Uttar Pradesh v Baroda: UP 163/7 (Prashant Gupta 49, Suresh Raina 47 not out, Bhargav Bhatt 2/13) beat Bar 125/7 (Soaeb Tai 26 not out, Ankit Rajpoot 3/30) by 38 runs
Needing 164 under lights, Baroda who have excelled chasing earlier in the league matches, stuttered in the final and were left with a mountain to climb when their top three batsmen were back in the dugout in quick succession. Medium pacer Ankit Rajpoot (3/30) removed opener Kedar Devdhar in the second over while his brother Mrunal departed in the seventh with the score on 48.
If the T20 is seen as a format where spinners have little role to play, Uttar Pradesh’s slower bowlers - Piyush Chawla and Kuldeep Yadav – proved everyone wrong. Their combined eight overs fetched only 28 runs. They also bowled 22 dot balls. Such was the impact that Baroda could not find a boundary for 55 balls after the fifth over.
The big break arrived when chinaman bowler Kuldeep outwitted Hardik Pandya, the tournament’s top run-getter as hit straight back to the him. With the pitch slightly slowing down, Yusuf Pathan struggled to hit the top gear and made an uncharacteristic 14 off 27 balls. When Irfan walked out to bat, Baroda needed 80 from 29 balls. With nobody able to clear the fence, Baroda eventually finished at 125/7.
Earlier, Baroda bowlers did a good job to restrict UP to a gettable score after electing to bowl first. Samarth Singh was the first to depart when he chopped the ball onto the stumps as UP lost the first wicket for 37. Walking in at No.3 to a rousing welcome, Raina started off with his trademark inside-out shot that cleared the inner circle.
UP were in trouble when Prashant Gupta was caught at mid-on on the last ball of the Power Play, but the third umpire observed that Munaf Patel had overstepped. The narrow escape resulted in UP batters curbing aggression and looked to rotate the strike. The 50-run stand was raised in 41 balls when Raina stepped out to hit Soaeb Tai for his first six in the match in the 12th over. In the next over, Prashant hit Bhargav Bhatt for another six, but was trapped in front soon after when he failed to read a quicker delivery. UP slipped further as the left-arm spinner struck again in the same over to dismiss Eklavya Dwivedi for zero. Reeling at 97/3, UP got a big reprieve when Yusuf Pathan dropped Piyush Chawla at short mid-off.
With boundaries drying up, Chawla looked to free his arms and though he managed a six and a four courtesy a reverse-sweep, his stay in the middle was short lived as he was trapped in front by Tai in the 16th over. The fall of wicket continued for UP and they paid a price for taking Munaf Patel lightly in the field. The senior player effected a run-out to send back a dangerous looking Umang Sharma, who had clobbered two boundaries in four balls.
The Baroda bowlers deserve credit for not allowing Raina, one of the most destructive batsmen in the T20 format, to score freely. Though he stayed till the end and finished on a high with a six off the final ball, the UP captain did not look at his fluent best. In his 37-ball knock, Raina could manage only two boundaries and as many sixes. Though Munaf did not get a wicket, he bowled 11 dot balls in his four overs and conceded only 21 runs.