Bengal, Haryana surge into semi-finals
Wriddhiman Saha and Ashok Dinda turned in top-drawer performances to propel Bengal to a convincing 49-run win against Maharashtra at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Uppal. It was not all smooth-sailing for Bengal after they chose to bat, as Akshya Darekar and Kishore Bhikane dismantled the top order with five cheap wickets, including captain Manoj Tiwary for 21. Coming together at 68 for 5 in the 12th over, Saha changed the complexion of the game in Arnab Nandi's company. Saha smote six sixes and five fours in a brutal display of hitting that was worth 85 off 41 balls and took the score to 171 for 5. Still reeling from the onslaught, Maharashtra's chase sputtered against Dinda who finished with 4 for 13. Harshad Khadiwale and Nikhil Paradkar saved their side from complete embarrassment, but the result was never in doubt.
Haryana completed the semi-final line-up in a more closely-contested game against Kerala, also played in Uppal, where they prevailed by 20 runs. Haryana openers Sonu Rathee and Rahul Dewan launched their innings with a 43-run stand in 5.2 overs to set up the platform. Dewan and Hemang Badani got identical scores - they both made 43 - but in contrasting styles. Dewan consumed 44 balls for his effort, while Badani hit five fours and a six in 28 balls. Haryana's innings never gathered momentum thanks to a spate of run-outs in the latter stages, and they closed with 155 for 8. Kerala's chase was spiked by Haryana's two most feted bowlers - Joginder Sharma (2-25) and Amit Mishra (2-14), and the sluggish chase went nowhere until VA Jagadheesh scored a fluent 49 from No. 5. However, like in the other game, the effort was not to prove enough for the team batting second.