Baroda claim title with three-run win
Baroda 144 for 7 (Waghmode 42, Murtaza 2-22, Praveen 2-24) beat Uttar Pradesh 141 for 7 (Prashant Gupta 68, Dwivedi 56, Meriwala 3-31) by three runs
It was Uttar Pradesh's final to lose, at 116 for 1 in the 17th over chasing a target of 145. And they went ahead and lost it, managing just 25 off the final 21 deliveries to hand the title to Baroda, who took the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy for the second time. It was an inexplicable implosion after Prashant Gupta and Eklavya Dwivedi had put on 98 for the second wicket in 13.3 overs.
As soon as Gupta holed out to Abhijit Karambelkar off the tournament's leading-wicket-taker Lukman Meriwala for 68 off 53, UP lost their wits. Rinku Singh came in and had a wild heave first ball at a Munaf Patel short delivery, only to lob an edge to point. Four deliveries later, their captain Akshdeep Nath was run-out, leaving UP to get 18 off the last two overs.
Dwivedi then mishit a full toss from Meriwala straight to deep midwicket, as UP continued to look for the big shots almost every ball. The wicketkeeper departed for 56 off 47, and UP had no other set batsman in the middle. Still, the equation was not out of reach, with 13 needed off nine. However, UP kept going for glory. It was Umang Sharma's turn now as he mishit his first ball down the ground for Karambelkar to run across from long-on and take another sharp catch, giving Meriwala his third wicket.
With Munaf having bowled his quota, Baroda turned to Rishi Arothe for the final over with UP needing 11. Praveen Kumar failed to get away the first three balls from Arothe, who kept it full outside off. Praveen somehow squeezed out the fourth to sweeper cover for a single, and Upendra Yadav gave his side some hope, cleanly launching the fifth over long-on for six. The last ball was a full toss outside off, but Yadav could only nick it through to the keeper as he heaved, sparking wild celebrations among the Baroda players.
It had been a wayward start to the match for UP after they chose to bowl, with Praveen sending his first four balls down the pads, which cost his side 11 runs. Praveen was to come back strongly, taking 2 for 13 in his remaining three overs, but Kedar Devdhar and captain Aditya Waghmode built on that early momentum to give their side a start of 80 inside ten overs.
It was Waghmode doing most of the hitting in his 42 off 31 while Devdhar contributed 26 off 32. Waghmode hit several boundaries over the off-side infield, setting himself up and calmly lifting the ball over the cordon. When there was a sweeper put in, he often made sure he placed the ball wide of the man. Baroda were to suffer a collapse as well, stumbling to 144 for 7 after the openers departed within an over of each other.
Gupta and Dwivedi gave it back with a partnership that picked up pace as it developed. Both lofted over extra cover with superb control. Gupta seemed to be taking UP home when he swung Meriwala for a six that cleared deep midwicket comfortably, but the following batsmen were to undo all his efforts.
Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo