Baroda and Uttar Pradesh will square off in the final of the Mushtaq Ali T20 cricket championships after notching up contrasting wins over their respective opponents in the final Super League encounters.
Baroda pipped hosts Mumbai en route their summit clash berth by virtue of a better net run rate (NRR) while UP beat a formidable Delhi to reach title round.
Needing 152 to win in 19.1 overs to qualify for the finals, Baroda reached the target with one wicket to spare in 19 overs in a thrilling Group A match at the Wankhede Stadium. Baroda recorded a better NRR of +0.299 compared to +0.196.
UP, on the other hand, notched up their third straight win in Group B at the Bandra Kurla Complex ground of the Mumbai Cricket Association - by defeating Delhi by three wickets with two balls to spare.
Replying to Delhi’s total of 158 for 6, structured around opener Unmukht Chand’s 48 and Pawan Negi’s unbeaten 41, UP scored 159 for 7 in 19.4 overs, with Eklavya Dwivedi’s game-changing innings of unbeaten 49 off 35 balls with five boundaries and two sixes.
At Wankhede Stadium, Baroda, after winning the toss, opted to field. Mumbai’s 151 for five was built around T20 specialist Suryakumar Yadav’s 57 off 36 balls studded with eight boundaries.
Chasing the target in 19.1 overs to qualify for the January 20 final under lights at the Wankhede, Baroda were struggling at 79 for 4 after 11 overs through a triple strike by leg spinner Praveen Tambe, who packed off Mrunal Devdhar (18), Hardik Pandya (28) and Yusuf Pathan (1).
And when Irfan Pathan (19) and Deepak Hooda departed, the latter after making 53 in 35 balls, Baroda were in trouble at 126 for 6 at the beginning of the 17th over.
But Soaeb Tai (10) and wicketkeeper Pinal Shah (13) held their nerves to add crucial 19 runs. Though they lost three more wickets, the last wicket pair of Bhargav Bhat (4 not out), who had taken two wickets earlier, and former India player Munaf Patel (0 not out) helped Baroda complete a close win within the stipulated number of overs.