IOC squeak into semi-finals despite defeat
India Cements marched into the semi-finals with their second successive bonus-point win, trouncing All India Electricity Board by seven wickets with 22 overs to spare in Vishakapatnam. AIEB were tormented by pace and spin alike after being invited to bat, and eventually stuttered to an inadequate 128 in 41.2 overs. Manoj Tiwary was the only batsman to come to terms with the situation, scoring 43, but there was no support forthcoming from his colleagues. R Ashwin and Shadab Jakati spun their way to combined figures of 6 for 47 in 18.2 overs, while seamer M Raja chipped in with 2 for 29.
India Cements' reply ran into rough weather early with Tiwary scalping three big wickets under the lights to reduce them to 25 for 3 in the 11th over. However, their hopes of an unlikely win were scuppered by contrasting fifties from Abhinav Mukund and Dinesh Karthik. The pair added 109 in 17.1 overs to ensure there was no twist in the tale. Karthik was unbeaten on 62 off 57 with two sixes and five fours, while Mukund had 58 when the winning runs were scored.
Indian Oil Corporation's middle order lost their nerve in a tight chase as Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited emerged victorious in a contest that was reduced to 21 overs a side in Chennai. Despite the defeat, IOC edged ahead of BPCL at the top of the table on the basis of net run-rate and qualified for the semi-finals.
Chasing 135 for victory, Ravikant Shukla and Rohit Sharma put IOC on course, after early impetus from Wasim Jaffer, by adding 56 in 10.4 overs. With 27 runs needed from 25 balls, Rohit was bowled by Avishkar Salvi and thereafter panic set in. Four wickets fell in quick succession, three of them run out as IOC lost the plot under pressure. Shitanshu Kotak bowled a nerveless couple of overs in the death, including the last over of the match. IOC needed three off the last two balls, but lost wickets off both to fall short.
Earlier Rajesh Pawar and Vikrant Yeligati led a strong comeback in the second half of BPCL's innings, to reduce them from 95 for 2 in the 13th over to a final score of 134 for 9. However, IOC's batsmen were unable to make their efforts count.
Naman Ohja, the captain, led from the front as a clinical Air India side comprehensively outplayed State Bank of Mysore in Hyderabad. The win gave Air India a clean sweep of their three group matches and put them in the semi-finals.
Ohja pummelled 84 from 58 balls, with nine fours and five sixes, as Air India raced to their target of 145 in less than 20 overs, losing one wicket along the way. Ohja and Chandan Madan put on 125 for the first wicket, off 14 overs, and were particularly harsh on Sreenath Aravind, whose four overs went for 54. Madan remained unbeaten on 54.
State Bank of Mysore were bowled out for 144 in 39.2 overs, with Air India's bowlers sharing the wickets around. Left-arm spinner Ankeet Chavan was the pick of them, taking 3 for 30, while seamer Dhawal Kulkarni finished with 3 for 44.
M Vijay's century and Rajagopal Sathish's late-overs heroics helped Chemplast chase down a target of 289 with relative ease and consign Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited to a five-wicket defeat in Hyderabad. The result had no impact at the top of Group C, with Air India qualifying after winning all their three games.
Chemplast's decision to field came unstuck immediately as Monish Mishra launched into their attack with gay abandon in his 63-ball 80. Arindam Das was more sedate at the other end, scoring 43 off 60 balls in a stand worth 97. After the early damage, Chemplast checked BSNL in the middle overs through the trio of Piyush Chawla, R Jesuraj and Syed Mohammad, who accounted for seven wickets in all. Kuldeep Diwan lashed around for 26 off 11 balls to lift the score to 288.
Chemplast's chase was a perfect example of how to go after tall targets, with the batting line-up supporting Vijay, who ensured he scored a century. Most of the bowlers took some tap, barring Salil Yadav, who picked up 3 for 40, the third of his scalps being Vijay for 112 off 114 balls. With 81 required off 11 overs, BSNL sensed a chance to snatch victory, but Sathish had plans of his own. He smashed four sixes and nine fours in a dazzling display of strokeplay that ended the game with 25 balls to spare.
Income Tax (India) qualified for the semi-finals of the tournament with a comprehensive six-wicket win over MRF in Bangalore. Set a target of 284, Income Tax got a flying start from openers Hiken Shah and Ameya Shrikhande, and raced to victory in under 36 overs, to finish top of the group and qualify for the semi-finals.
The opening pair put on 78 in less than eight overs, with Shah making 50 off 28 balls with eight fours and two sixes. His dismissal did not slow Income Tax's progress, with Shrikhande and Amol Ubarhande adding a further 76 in 7.2 overs. Ubarhande was eventually out for 76, the top score of the innings.
MRF's innings was built around a solid 82 from Venugopal Rao, who put on 96 with Umashankar Sushul for the fourth wicket. Sridharan Sriram chipped in with 58. Parag Khanpurkar was the best of the Income Tax bowlers with 2 for 48.
Oil & Natural Gas Corporation bowed out of the tournament with a six-wicket win against State Bank of Patiala, with 27.3 overs to spare, in Bangalore. ONGC's bowlers stuck to their task after winning the toss, striking at regular intervals to ensure SBP never got going. Munaf Patel began the slide, dismissing openers Ravi Inder Singh and R Rehni in his opening spell. Praveen Kumar kept the pressure on at the other end with a nagging spell before Sumit Narwal and Amit Mishra scythed through the middle order. Late resistance from Sarabjit Ladda took SBP past 100, but it was nowhere near sufficient to trouble ONGC.
Despite the early losses of Virat Kohli and Sandeep Sharma, the chase stayed on course thanks to Tanmay Srivastava and Gagan Khoda who struck forties take their side to the brink of victory. Ladda picked two wickets towards the end, but by then the result was in no doubt.
Air India v India Cements on September 5
Income Tax (India) v Indian Oil Corporation on September 6