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Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, 2020-21: Punjab, Tamil Nadu reach semifinals

Punjab sealed a clinical nine-wicket win over Karnataka while Tamil Nadu defeated Himachal by five wickets in the quarterfinals at the Motera Stadium.

Punjab and Tamil Nadu beat Karnataka and Himachal respectively on the opening day of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2020-21 knockouts at the Motera Stadium in Ahmedabad on Tuesday and sealed their spots in the semifinals. 

Punjab sealed a clinical win over Karnataka while Tamil Nadu defeated Himachal to reach the semifinals and here's how the action unfolded 

Quarterfinal 1 – Karnataka vs Punjab

A fine all-round bowling show and unbeaten 85-run stand between wicketkeeper-batsman Prabhsimran Singh and skipper Mandeep Singh powered Punjab to a nine-wicket win over Karnataka in the first quarterfinal of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy at the Motera Stadium in Ahmedabad on Tuesday.

After electing to bowl at the grand Motera Stadium in Ahmedabad, Sandeep Sharma gave Punjab their first breakthrough, dismissing Karun Nair in the third over.

Siddharth Kaul was introduced into the attack in the fourth over and the right-arm pacer made an impact straightway, bowling a double-wicket maiden, getting the wickets of Devdutt Padikkal and Pavan Deshpande.

Arshdeep Singh then gave Punjab their fourth wicket as he got the wicket of B R Sharath. While Aniruddha Joshi looked to steady the ship with Shreyas Gopal and Jagadeesha Suchith, Punjab continued to chip away, reducing Karnataka to 6/72.

Punjab then picked the last four wickets for 15 runs and bowled out Karnataka for 87. While Kaul picked three wickets, Sandeep Sharma, Arshdeep Singh and Ramandeep Singh scalped two wickets each in addition to Mayank Markande’s one wicket.

Punjab lost Abhishek Sharma early in the chase as Abhimanyu Mithun dismissed the left-hander for 4.

Mandeep then joined Prabhsimran in the middle and the pair played their strokes to keep the scorecard ticking and denied Karnataka any success.

While Prabhsimran scored 49*, hitting 2 fours and 3 sixes, Mandeep remained not out on 35 as their unbroken stand helped Punjab secure a place in the semifinals.

Brief Scores: Punjab 89/1 (Prabhsimran Singh 49*, Mandeep Singh 35*; Abhimanyu Mithun 1/11) beat Karnataka 87 all out (Aniruddha Joshi 27, Shreyas Gopal 13; Siddharth Kaul 3/15) by 9 wickets

Quarterfinal 2 – Tamil Nadu vs Himachal

The bowlers limited Himachal to 135/9 before Baba Aparajith and Shahrukh starred with the bat as Tamil Nadu beat Himachal by five wickets in the second quarterfinal. 

After put in to bat, Himachal opener Prashant Chopra got a couple of reprieves in the first two overs but could not make the most of his luck and got out for 6 off R Sonu Yadav’s bowling. While Abhimnayu Rana had made a brisk start to take Himachal to 24/0 after three overs, Tamil Nadu managed to pull back the things, conceding just 7 runs in the next three overs.

Tamil Nadu picked their second wicket, courtesy a fielding brilliance from Murugan Ashwin, who ran in from the deep, and hit the stumps bull’s eye to run out Rana in the seventh over.

Nitin Sharma and Ravi Thakur then added 29 runs together to take Himachal closer to 70. But Sandeep Warrier, who was brought back into the attack in the 12th over, broke the partnership, dismissing Nitin Sharma for 26.

Skipper Rishi Dhawan joined Ravi Thakur in the middle and the two put up a 31-run stand. But R Sai Kishore gave Tamil Nadu a breakthrough as he got Thakur out. R Sonu Yadav then added two wickets to his account while Sandeep Warrier picked his second wicket of the match as Himachal, despite a fighting 35*-run knock from Rishi Dhawan, were restricted to 135/9.

In the chase, Tamil Nadu lost three wickets in the powerplay as Vaibhav Arora ran through the Tamil Nadu top order. The Himachal pacer dismissed the in-form N Jagadeesan in the second over and then bowled a double-wicket maiden, getting C Hari Nishaanth and K B Arun Karthick in the fourth over.

R Sonu Yadav was promoted in the batting order and he and Baba Aparajith added 35 runs together. However, Himachal struck back and scalped two wickets in the space of six runs. While R Sonu Yadav was caught in the deep, Mayank Dagar got the big wicket of Dinesh Karthik after Prashant Chopra completed a smart catch to reduce Tamil Nadu to 66/5.

Tamil Nadu needed 70 runs off 45 balls as Dinesh Karthik got out.

While Himachal were looking on top, Baba Aparajith and Shahrukh Khan turned the tide. The two hammered 29 runs over the course of the 14th and the 15th over, with Baba Aparajith hitting 2 fours and a six and Shahrukh hitting 2 fours.

In the 16th over, Shahrukh creamed a six and Tamil Nadu scored 14 runs to move past 110. The big-hitting right-hander added three fours and a six to his account in the next two overs before Baba Aparajith hit a six to bring up a fine half-century to take Tamil Nadu home.

Brief Scores: Tamil Nadu 141/5 (Baba Aparajith 52*, Shahrukh Khan 40*; Vaibhav Arora 3/30) beat Himachal 135/9 (Rishi Dhawan 35*, Abhimanyu Rana 28; R Sonu Yadav 3/14) by 5 wickets