Mumbai v Punjab, Semi-final, 4th day March 21, 2005

Dharmani defies Mumbai as Punjab clinch a thriller

Cricinfo staff

Punjab 126 and 294 for 7 (Dharmani 86*) beat Mumbai 251 and 168 (Shetty 69) by 3 wickets

Pankaj Dharmani defied Mumbai with a battling 86 not out as Punjab upstaged Mumbai in a nerve-wracking tussle at the Wankhede Stadium. Needing 68 runs today with six wickets in hand, Punjab endured some tense moments before wrapping it up a few minutes after lunch.

Gaurav Gupta, who had supported Dharmani with a fighting 34, fell early in the day to Avishkar Salvi after the two shared a 99-run stand. Amit Uniyal and Navdeep Singh soon followed as Mumbai sniffed an incredible victory. But Gagandeep Singh, the hero with the ball with eight wickets in the game, hung around for 44 balls and helped Dharmani steer them home.

Dharmani was part of the Punjab side that overcame Mumbai in March 2001, the last time that Mumbai lost a game at home, and his composed knock will probably rate as one of the best of his career. After top-scoring in the first innings, when Punjab crumbled for just 126, he ground out a memorable 86 here in testing circumstances.

It meant that Mumbai's dream run since 2001 finally came to an end and a hat-trick of Ranji Trophy triumphs escaped their grasp. Punjab will now ready themselves for the final against Railways, beginning at Mohali on March 30. After this fantastic win, Intikhab Alam's boys will surely start as favourites.