India Cements 275 for 9 (Vasudevadas 93, Arun Karthik 49, Trivedi 4-63) beat Air India 250 (Bisla 53, Kanitkar 49, Madan 46, Badani 4-23) by 25 runs
A responsible yet attacking innings from Kuthethurshri Vasudevadas, and a surprise four-wicket haul from Hemang Badani gave India Cements a 25-run victory against Air India in the first semi-final in Visakhapatnam.
Badani had never taken more than two wickets in a List A game, and he chose a significant moment to better his personal best. Air India's chase was set up by their top order, and they had the in-form Naman Ojha to try complete it. Two overs of Badani's usually innocuous left-arm spinners, however, swung the match towards India Cements.
He had Ojha stumped for 33 off 19 balls in the 44th, and followed it up with a first-ball dismissal of Ankeet Chavan - Dinesh Karthik taking a smart low catch. Paul Valthaty, who had briefly threatened in Ojha's company, also edged behind in the 46th, and Ajit Chandila offered a return catch to give Badani figures of 4 for 23 in seven overs. RP Singh and Siddharth Trivedi lashed a few late runs but Air India had lost too many wickets too quickly, and eventually folded 25 runs short.
That India Cements has 275 to defend was largely down to Vasudevadas' innings of 93 off 75. By the time Vasudevadas was dismissed off the penultimate ball of the innings, he had ensured his team had overcome his top-order colleagues' failure to convert their starts into significant contributions. Every time a partnership threatened to go into overdrive, Air India hit back with a wicket, and Karthik's bizarre dismissal - bowled ducking under a slow, dipping full-toss - typified the course India Cements' innings was taking. When Badani departed for 8, they had stumbled to 174 for 5 in the 39th over, and even a score of 250 seemed a stretch. Vasudevadas, however, had plans of his own.
With the tail struggling to pick Trivedi's variations, Vasudevadas had little support forthcoming, but he kept counterattacking without taking too many risks. He struck no sixes, but 13 fours ensured his runs came briskly before he fell one short of his career-best score.
For the most part, Air India's innings followed a script similar to India Cements'. Chandan Madan, Manvinder Bisla and Hrishikesh Kanitkar all threatened to make the target seem inadequate, but perished just when they had things under control. Unfortunately, they did not have someone with the finishing skills of Vasudevadas to fall back on. And they had Badani to deal with as well.