Patel steers Gujarat to 11-run win
Gujarat 153 for 8 (Niraj Patel 93) beat Punjab 142 by 11 runs
Interest in the Twenty20 Championships were piqued when Gujarat pulled off an upset of sorts, beating Punjab by 11 runs on a still, warm humid evening at the Brabourne Stadium. Powered by a sensible knock from Niraj Patel, who was unlucky not to becoming the second batsman to score a century in this tournament, falling short by seven runs, Gujarat posted a decent score and then bowled well enough to defend it.
When they finished on 153 for 8 Gujarat probably had just enough on the board to make a fight of it. Punjab's bowling attack had done well early on, but both the spinners and the medium-pacers failed to prise out Patel, who concentrated on running hard between the wickets, only going for the big shots when he had the room to free his arms and time the ball.
Patel, who has been on the domestic scene for a while now, has always been an industrious sort of player. Small and not especially powerfully built, he has relied on working the ball into the gaps and picking up the ones and twos to keep the score ticking over. He did that especially well on the day, and perhaps the Punjab bowlers did not see him as a major threat because he doesn't possess the really big shots.
He was still good enough to his 12 fours and two sixes in his 65-ball 93. And when he was dismissed, in the first ball of the last over, it was through a bit of bad luck. Mohnish Parmar hit a return catch to Dinesh Mongia, who cleverly realised that Patel was backing up too much. Mongia made to drop the ball and effected the run out at the non-striker's end. With no player appealing for the catch the umpires had no choice but to rule Patel out.
There was a bit of confusion over who was dismissed - as per the laws of the game if a catch is taken cleanly the ball is then dead and there's strictly no need for an appeal from the bowling side. However, the umpires reckoned that Mongia was not fully in control with of the ball soon after taking the catch, and that he had not held the catch, but in fact effected the run out. At any rate, it only dented Patel's personal score, not Gujarat, who mustered 153.
With a strong batting line-up and more than one international with some Twenty20 experience in the mix, Punjab should have had no difficulty chasing down the target. However, they did not, at any point, really get going, and with the highest partnership of the Punjab innings only amounting to 37, unbroken for the last wicket, there was never a time when they were ahead of the required rate.
Parthiv Patel pulled off a terrific stumping off the medium pace of Hitesh Majmudar to account for Yuvraj Singh. Dinesh Mongia, who made 32, was bowled by Ashraf Makda. Harbhajan Singh tonked three sixes, but that only got the sparse crowd excited in vain as Punjab fell well short.
Anand Vasu is associate editor of Cricinfo