Shukla, bowlers take IOC to final
Indian Oil Corporation XI 308 for 4 (Shukla 123*, Dani 49*, Desai 2-36) beat Income Tax (India) 241 (Shrikhande 114, Thaker 45, Hussain 2-29, Dani 2-34) by 67 runs
An unbeaten century from Uttar Pradesh batsman Ravikant Shukla, a stunning lower-order assault from Amit Dani, and an all-round bowling effort helped Indian Oil Corporation overcome Income Tax to enter the final against India Cements. Ameya Shrikhande scored a run-a-ball 114 to keep Income Tax in the hunt, but his team-mates could not provide adequate support as they were bowled out 67 runs short.
IOC's decision to bat was vindicated by their openers who added 61 in 11.3 overs and set the stage for a big score. Wasim Jaffer was in an aggressive mood, striking seven fours and a six in his 38 off 35 balls, while Paresh Patel was watchful at the other end. Though both were guilty of not making their starts count, Shukla who came in at one-drop was determined to cash in. The young middle-order duo of Cheteshwar Pujara and Harpreet Singh did the needful, turning the strike over as Shukla settled into a big innings.
Harpreet departed at 211 for 4 in the 42nd over, but by then Shukla had worked himself into top gear. Dani who came in at No. 6 hit the ground running and Income Tax came in for some punishment. Shukla, who came into this game with a solitary first-class 100 and none at the List A level, smashed eight fours and three sixes as he finished with 123. Dani clouted four sixes and three fours, and finished one short of a fifty as the stand realized 93 in eight overs.
Income Tax's reply got off to a horror start when opener Hiken Shah fell for a duck in the first over. They tried to counter-attack, going after IOC's opening bowlers, but the pressure of chasing a 300-plus score began to show on the running between the wickets. Amor Ubarhande and Jay Desai succumbed to run outs before Bhavik Thaker settled down with Shrikhande to rebuild the innings. During this phase, seamers Dani and Murtuza Hussain combined with left-arm spinner Rajesh Pawar to keep Income Tax quiet.
Thaker could not reach the boundary during his 45 off 62 balls and when he fell in the 37th over, Income Tax needed 120 off 13.3 overs. Shrikhande kept fighting, but the lower order did not have the nous to stay with him. His innings was ended by Pawar who castled him from over-the-wickets for a run-a-ball 114. Thereafter it was only a matter of time, and Income Tax eventually folded for 241 in the 46th over.