Delhi, Punjab and Baroda seal qualification
In his third game back since prematurely leaving the England tour, Virender Sehwag top-scored for Delhi as they beat Services by 37 runs in a low-scoring encounter at the Delhi Public School in Rohtak, and qualified for the knockout stages of the Syed Mustaq Ali Trophy. Sehwag's 35 off 39 balls helped Delhi reach 115 for 6 in their 20 overs and Services were bowled out for 78 in response. Left-arm spinners Puneet Mehra and Pawan Negi took five wickets between them to wreck Service's middle order. Ashish Nehra provided a breakthrough in the first over of the chase, and Sehwag and Ishant Sharma also picked up a wicket each. Only three Services batsmen reached double figures as they lasted only 18.2 overs.
Delhi had been steady in their innings, scoring at around five an over throughout. Though they lost wickets regularly, they managed a total that proved more than enough in the end.
At the Bansi Lal Cricket Stadium in Rohtak, Punjab chased down 112 against Jammu & Kashmir with five wickets and three balls to spare to finish top of the North Zone table and progress to the knockout stages. J&K chose to bat, but none of their line-up could get going. At one point they were tottering at 35 for 4, before Parvez Rassol and Ian Dev Singh doubled their score. Another mini-collapse followed, but Nos. 8 and 9 Majid Dhar and Samiullah Beigh made sure they got past 100 with a 33-run stand. Punjab's bowlers shared the wickets around. In the chase, their top five batsmen all scored between 11 and 27 to guide their side home in the 19th over without much drama.
Haryana earned a narrow victory against Himachal Pradesh at the Bansi Lal Cricket Stadium in Rohtak but it was not enough to take them through to the next round. Delhi and Punjab won their respective games leaving Haryana third in the group. Seamers Dhruv Singh, Harshal Patel and Sachin Rana bowled Himachal out for 96 but Haryana had trouble chasing the low total. They were 13 for 2 and then 59 for 5 and only got home in the final over, with just two wickets in hand. Himachal seamers Vikramjeet Malik and Rishi Dhawan caused the early flutter in Haryana's chase and left-arm spinner Abhinav Bali's quick wickets in the middle made the end tense.
Kuldeep Raval smashed 83 runs off 41 balls to take Saurashtra to an 11-run win against Gujarat at the Khandheri Cricket Stadium in Rajkot. The victory kept Saurashtra's hopes of progression alive but they were dashed when Baroda won the second match of the day on the ground. Raval, 25, had only played three list A games and three Twenty20s for Saurashtra before this match, but saved his team after they were in trouble at 37 for 4 in the eighth over. He smashed nine fours and five sixes, and put together 110 runs for the fifth wicket with Aarpit Vasavada, who made a steady 45. Raval's belligerence got Saurashtra to 162.
Gujarat, who had lost all their three games before this one, wobbled early in their chase, losing two wickets within the first two overs. Manprit Juneja kept them afloat with an aggressive 66. But the required-rate kept rising, Gujarat lost too many wickets, and they eventually fell short.
A marauding innings from Yusuf Pathan helped Baroda thump Maharashtra in Rajkot, and go through to the knockouts. Yusuf, batting at No. 3, took just 32 balls to smash 72 runs and by the time he was done Baroda had already reached 136 in the 14th over. Yusuf's brother Irfan Pathan chipped in with 20 and Aditya Waghmode got 32 as Baroda racked up a total of 192. Maharashtra floundered in the chase, slumping to 18 for 3 inside the first five overs. A bunch of batsmen in the middle order got starts but the chase never gathered momentum and Maharashtra ended up on 124 for 8 after their 20 overs.
A five-wicket haul by TP Sudhindra, and half-centuries from Harpreet Singh and Udit Birla, helped Madhya Pradesh to a 32-run win against Uttar Pradesh at the Holkar Cricket Stadium in Indore. After choosing to bat, MP slipped to 52 for 3. Birla then joined Harpreet and the pair put on 99 before Birla was bowled for 56 off 37 balls. Harpreet, though, took MP to 200 before he was run out for 59. Chasing 202, UP were set back right away by twin strikes by Sudhindra. Tanmay Srivastava held the chase together for a while, with 53 off 39, but Sudhindra returned to pick up three more wickets and seal the game for MP.
Railways eased to an eight-wicket win against Rajasthan at the Holkar Cricket Stadium. After choosing to bat, Rajasthan were steered to a competitive 162 for 8, courtesy 52 off 38 from Ashok Menaria and 47 off 28 from Vaibhav Deshpande. Jai Prakash Yadav was the pick of the Railways bowlers, claiming 3 for 21 in his four. The top order was solid in the chase. Shreyas Khanolkar and Mahesh Rawat put on 69 in 7.2 overs for the first wicket, before Faiz Fazal added 49 for the second wicket with Rawat. Fazal and Sanjay Bangar then got together to take Railways home in the 19th over with another solid stand.
The knockout stages of the tournament will be played in March next year.