Tamil Nadu and Bengal ease into final
Tamil Nadu 348 for 5 (Mukund 130, Anirudha 76, Badrinath 58, Amarjeet 3-60) beat Madhya Pradesh 214 (Anand 43, Sathish 4-16, Mahesh 3-49) by 134 runs
Tamil Nadu's formidable batting unit clicked again to set up a thrashing of Madhya Pradesh in the semi-finals at the Madhavrao Scindia Cricket ground. It was Abhinav Mukund who made a century this time, supported by half-centuries from opener S Anirudha and S Badrinath. The other major contribution was an all-round effort from R Sathish, blazing a 17-ball 39 and then bagging four wickets to bury MP's chances.
After choosing to bat, Tamil Nadu's openers piled on a 177-run stand before Anirudha fell at the end of the 32nd over. With the foundation in place, Tamil Nadu stepped up the pace, with Badrinath slapping eight fours and a six to slam a 40-ball 58. Abhinav, meanwhile, progressed to his third List A century, making a steady 130. Medium-pacer Amarjeet Singh removed both off consecutive deliveries in the 44th over to reduce Tamil Nadu to 276 for 3. Even then, there was no respite for MP, with Sathish and K Vasudevadas ransacking 72 runs in the final six overs to set a massive target of 349.
MP lost opener Jalaj Saxena early but kept fighting through a brisk 72-run association between Naman Ojha and Monish Mishra. However, a double-strike from medium-pacer Yo Mahesh, removing both set batsmen in the space of the three deliveries in the 14th over took the momentum out of the chase, and MP never recovered. It didn't help that none of their batsmen reached even 50, and they were bowled out in the 44th over, 134 runs short.
Bengal 231 for 6 (Tiwary 61, Das 59) beat Karnataka 230 for 9 (Gautam 72) by four wickets
Manoj Tiwary's patient half-century steered Bengal past Karnataka and into the finals, setting up a replay of last year's title clash. His effort came after a solid platform laid by the openers, Shreevats Goswami and Arindam Das, who put up 118 runs, which meant even a late wobble didn't hurt Bengal. The game had been billed as a clash between Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly, but neither of the former India captains had much of an impact on the outcome.
Karnataka's top-order batsmen flopped after they were sent in, and it was only a battling 93-run partnership between CM Gautam and S Aravind that lifted them from the depths of 130 for 8 to a middling score. The experiment to play Vinay Kumar at No. 3 worked to an extent, his 43 was the highest score among Karnataka's top six. Dravid stuck around for 48 deliveries to compile 29 before he was caught behind off debutant offspinner Soumya Pakre. That dismissal came in the middle of a collapse that started with Vinay's exit - Karnataka losing five wickets for 29 runs. It was then that Gautam combined with Aravind, who had made only 15 runs in his career before today's unbeaten 38, to revive Karnataka.
Bengal's chase had its shakiest period when four wickets went down for 24 runs after the openers had put on a big stand. Tiwary and Wriddhiman Saha, though, put Bengal back on top with a 74-run association, and the target was overhauled with an over to spare.