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Tamil Nadu and Baroda on Friday set up the final showdown after securing wins in their respective semifinals of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2020-21 at the Motera Stadium in Ahmedabad.
While the Dinesh Karthik-led Tamil Nadu beat Rajasthan by seven wickets, Kedar Devdhar and Co. came out on top against Punjab to reach the final.
Here's how the action unfolded:
Semifinal 1 – Tamil Nadu vs Rajasthan
Arun Karthik starred with the bat as Tamil Nadu beat Rajasthan by seven wickets to march into the final.
The right-hander creamed an unbeaten 89 off 54 balls as the Dinesh Karthik-led unit, who needed 155 runs to win, chased down the target in 18.4 overs.
Earlier, after electing to bowl, Tamil Nadu struck in the first over as Baba Aparajith took a stunning diving catch off R Sai Kishore’s bowling to dismiss Bharat Sharma.
Tamil Nadu had a chance to scalp the second Rajasthan wicket in the second over. But Shahrukh Khan could not complete an easy catch and Aditya Garhwal got a life when he was on 5. The right-hander then added 24 quick runs, hitting 4 more fours and a six.
But Tamil Nadu managed to cut short Garhwal’s stay in the middle as Baba Aparajith dismissed him in the fifth over.
Ashok Menaria walked out to bat after Garhwal’s fall and announced his intentions straightway, creaming Aswin Crist for three fours and a six in the final over of the powerplay to take Rajasthan past fifty.
While Tamil Nadu dropped a couple of chances, Menaria continued to make merry and brought up his fifty and brought up Rajasthan’s hundred in the 12th over.
But just when Rajasthan were looking for a big finish, Tamil Nadu started to pull things back as they struck twice in two overs to dismiss Menaria and Mahipal Lomror, who had scored 78* off 37 balls in the quarterfinal, and eventually limited Rajasthan to 154/9.
In the chase, Tamil Nadu lost two wickets early. While Tanveer Ul-Haq dismissed C Hari Nishanth in the third over, Baba Aparajith got out in the fourth over as Aniket Choudhary struck.
Arun Karthik and N Jagadeesan then joined forces and steadied the ship for Tamil Nadu, adding 52 runs to take the side close to the 70-run mark. However, the partnership was broken as Ravi Bishnoi dismissed N Jagadeesan for 28.
With Tamil Nadu needing a big partnership, Dinesh Karthik joined Arun Karthik in the middle. The pair kept the scorecard ticking and cashed in on Rajasthan’s fielding lapses, including a run-out opportunity to take Tamil Nadu past 100 in the 14th over.
Arun Karthik brought up his fifty in the 15th over before hammering a six and a four in the next over to take Tamil Nadu past 130. He then got two more reprieves in the 18th over before he closed out the game, slamming two fours in the 19th over to seal Tamil Nadu’s win.
Arun Karthik remained unbeaten on 89 while skipper Dinesh Karthik scored 26* off 17 balls and added 89 runs to help Tamil Nadu secure a place in the final.
Brief Scores: Tamil Nadu 158/3 (Arun Karthik 89*, N Jagadeesan 28; Tanveer-Ul-Haq 1/22) beat Rajasthan 154/9 (Ashok Menaria 51, Arjit Gupta 45; M Mohammed 4/24) by 7 wickets
Semifinal 2 – Punjab vs Baroda
Baroda rode on skipper Kedar Devdhar and Karthik Kakade’s half-centuries as they beat Punjab by 25 runs in the semifinal to set up the final showdown against Tamil Nadu.
Lukman Meriwala then picked up three wickets with the ball as Baroda, who scored 160/3, limited Punjab to 135/8.
In the chase, Punjab lost both their openers – Abhishek Sharma and Prabhsimran Singh – in the powerplay as Meriwala helped Baroda get early breakthroughs.
Anmolpreet Singh and Gurkeerat Singh Mann then added 32 runs. But, Ninad Rathva broke the partnership. Baroda then kept striking at the regular intervals, reducing Punjab to 110/7.
While Mandeep Singh, despite a shoulder injury, put up a brave fight with the bat, scoring an unbeaten 42 off 24 balls, it was not enough as Punjab fell short by 25 runs.
Earlier, after put in to bat, Baroda lost their first wicket in the fifth over as Siddharth Kaul broke through Ninad Rathva’s defense. Vishnu Solanki, who was the architect of Baroda’s quarterfinal win over Haryana, was the next man to get out as Mayank Markande provided Punjab their second breakthrough.
Devdhar was then joined by Karthik Kakade in the middle and the pair, without taking any undue risks, kept the scorecard ticking and took Baroda to 100 after 14 overs. While the Baroda duo completed a fifty-run stand in the next over, Punjab skipper Mandeep Singh injured his shoulder while attempting to save a four and had to leave the field.
Baroda then scored 23 runs in the course of the next two overs and skipper Devdhar, leading from the front, brought up a well-compiled fifty with a six. Two over later, Kakade, who had walked out to bat at number four, completed his half-century.
While Devdhar got out in the final over after scoring 64, Baroda posted 160/3 on the board.
Brief Scores: Baroda 160/3 (Kedar Devdhar 64, Karthik Kanade 53*; Mayank Markande 1/29) beat Punjab 135/8 (Mandeep Singh 42*, Gurkeerat Singh Mann 39; Lukman Meriwala 3/28) by 25 runs