With a comprehensive five-wicket win against Gujarat, Tamil Nadu were the first to qualify for the semi-finals of Vijay Hazare Trophy, 2016-17. Powered by Krunal Pandya’s all-round performance (3/32 and 70 off 79) Baroda knocked out Karnataka in the quarter-finals to make it to the next stage.
QF 1 - Karnataka vs Baroda:
Earlier, after getting the team off to a decent start, Robin Uthappa hit Lukman Meriwala to square-leg and left the team on 64 for one. Six runs later, Mayank Agarwal was adjudged lbw off Atit Sheth while Manish Pandey was run out for 10 leaving the team on 83 for three. Pavan Deshpande the joined R Samarth in steadying the ship. The duo had added 87 for the fourth wicket until the middle-order bat, who was scoring at a quick pace was run out for 54. The wicket followed a mini-collapse as the No 3 batsman was sent back 12 runs later by Krunal while Stuart Binny stepping out to Swapnil Singh was stumped. At 188 for six in the 41st over, J Suchith joined Aniruddha Joshi in the middle.
Dropped by Deepak Hooda off Krunal at the midwicket boundary, Suchith survived on 14 and collected a boundary but was caught by the bowler off the next delivery after taking the aerial route again. The wicket got slower and the ball began to turn towards the end of the Karnataka innings and the Baroda bowlers, especially the spinners did well to use the conditions. Six runs later the left-arm spinner bowled Joshi to leave the team on 221 for eight. In the next over Irfan crashed S Arvind’s stumps while Vinay Kumar was run out three runs later.
Chasing 234 to win, Devdhar and Aditya Waghmode put together 64 runs until the latter was sent back by Arvind. Krunal then joined the opener in shaping the chase.
Having taken the measure of the conditions, Devdhar guided the chase with a watchfully compiled 98-ball 78. He found an able ally in Krunal in setting up the win. Scoring all round the wicket the opener helped his side maintain the advantage while Krunal too kept pace with the senior partner. They chipped at the target with singles and picked the boundaries at regular intervals to take the game away from Karnataka. Their partnership was worth 92, when Devdhar beaten in flight was bowled by a Suchith delivery. At 156 for two, Hooda then joined the No 3 bat in gleaning runs off the opposition. The pair added 47 runs for the third wicket until, the top-order bat nicked Arvind to the wicketkeeper.
With Yusuf Pathan, Hooda then took the team to the finish line in an unbroken 31-run partnership with 25 balls to spare.
QF 2 – Tamil Nadu vs Gujarat –
The Vijay Shankar-led TN side outplayed Gujarat in the quarter-final game to enter the semi-finals. While Rujul Bhatt’s unbeaten 83 helped the defending champions set TN a 212-run target, Ganga Sridhar Raju’s 95-ball 85 helped chase it down with 46 balls to spare at the Palam Ground in Delhi.
After Gujarat got off to a slow start to their innings, Rahil Shah claimed Priyank Panchal and Bhargav Merai off consecutive overs to leave the the team on 49 for two in the 13th over. 21 runs later, Baba Aparajith accounted for S Gohil. The pressure continued to build as the TN bowlers kept the opposition on their toes. Skipper Vijay Shankar trapped Het Patel and Chirag Gandhi lbw to leave the side tottering at 110 for five. While MS Washington Sundar followed up with the wicket of Axar Patel, the skipper sent back Jesal Karia a bit later. R Sai Kishore the claimed two more lower-order bats to leave the side on 210 for nine. Dinesh Karthik then ran out Ishwar Chaudhary to bowl the team out with two balls left in the innings.
GS Raju then anchored the TN chase with a well compiled knock. He set up the platform with a 62-run opening stand with Kaushik Gandhi until Axar struck. The opener was then involved in a 63-run partnership with Aparajith for the second wicket until Bhatt dismantled the No 3 bat’s stumps. The opener then took his team to 167 with Dinesh until he was sent back Panchal. The wicketkeeper-batsman and Baba Indrajith followed him back leaving the team on 172 for five. Although, TN lost three quick wickets, the captain found an ally M Mohammed to stitch a partnership. With a 45-run stand the pair ensured the side a comfortable win in the must-win match.