Dominant Bengal and Tamil Nadu march into semis
Tamil Nadu 302 (Badrinath 105, Mukund 80) beat Mumbai 128 (Marathe 64, Prabhu 4-34, Balaji 3-27) by 174 runs
As in the previous year, Tamil Nadu brushed aside the challenge of Mumbai in the quarter-finals and set up a semi-final clash with Madhya Pradesh. As the margin of defeat suggests, it was a thoroughly dominant performance from Tamil Nadu, with the newcomer Murthy Prabhu making as significant a contribution as the established names such as S Badrinath, Abhinav Mukund and L Balaji.
After Mumbai chose to field, Tamil Nadu's openers M Vijay and Srikkanth Anirudha provided a solid platform and handed over the reins to the middle order at 87 for 2 in the 18th over. Then the pair of Badrinath and Mukund combined for a 127-run stand that put Tamil Nadu on course for a big total. Badrinath capitalised on a life given on 44 by Murtuza Hussain, and slammed four sixes on the way to his fourth List A century, while Mukund made a more patient 80. By the time Mukund perished in the 41st over, the innings had developed enough momentum to steam past the 300-run mark, with K Vasudevadas providing the impetus along with the rampant Badrinath.
A target of 303 has proven gettable in this day and age, but Tamil Nadu's attack had no plans of letting the Mumbai batsmen heap such ignominy on them today. Balaji tormented Mumbai throughout the innings, and struck crucial body-blows to remove Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma and Ajit Agarkar. At the other end, Prabhu wove a web around the middle-order with a spell that left Mumbai humbled. Sushant Marathe's 64 ensured that they at least reached three-figures, but once he fell to Prabhu's wiles, it was only a matter of time before an early finish.
Bengal 256 for 1 (Goswami 149*, Ganguly 87*) beat Saurashtra 255 for 7 (Pujara 110, Jogiyani 71, Shukla 3-35)
A handful of Kolkata Knight Riders team-members announced their form ahead of the IPL, but it was Shreevats Goswami who took the headlines as Bengal came to the party in a big way, to shut Saurashtra out of the Vijay Hazare Trophy in Vadodara.
Before the batsmen took over, Bengal's fast bowlers set up the dominance with a laudable performance. Ranadeb Bose was at the forefront, striking early to remove Chirag Pathak and delivering economical figures of 1 for 37. Laxmi Ratan Shukla then took over the baton, keeping the runs down and striking thrice. In the meantime, Cheteshwar Pujara struck a sublime ton to take his side to a respectable score. Sagar Jogiyani provided the ideal foil as Pujara took centre-stage, striking ten fours to all corners of the ground, in addition to a six.
The target of 256 should have made a meek batting line-up sweat but, on the day, Bengal made it look like a walk in the park. Arindam Das got out after a strong start, before Shreevats Goswami and Sourav Ganguly unleashed mayhem to put the innings into overdrive. All the bowlers suffered as Goswami smashed eleven fours and seven sixes around the Moti Bagh Stadium in a dominant display. It took the class of Ganguly to match the brilliance of Goswami's innings shot for shot, as he finished with five fours and an equal number of sixes. The size of the target was the only constraint as the game ended in the 41st over with Goswami, a run away from 150 and Ganguly 13 short of a ton.
The semi-finals on Saturday will have Bengal taking on Karnataka in Vadodara, while Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradesh will face off in Rajkot.