All-round Bipul Sharma takes Punjab to semis
Punjab's spinners, led by Bipul Sharma and Rahul Sharma, set up a five-wicket win over Hyderabad at Palam A Ground. Bipul and Rahul shared seven wickets between them to restrict Hyderabad to a modest 175, before Chandan Madan hit an unbeaten 78 to guide Punjab home. Hyderabad progressed steadily to 79 for 1 in the 23rd over before Bipul struck with the wicket of Akshath Reddy. The Hyderabad middle order failed to convert starts as the spinners struck at regular intervals. Ibrahim Khaleel top scored with 46, but the lower order and tail could only manage single-figure scores. Bipul finished with 4 for 31 while Rahul took 3 for 40. Hyderabad lost their last seven wickets for just 54 runs.
It wasn't smooth sailing for Punjab either with the bat. Early strikes by Anwar Ahmed and Ashish Reddy reduced Punjab to 28 for 4, but Madan dropped anchor. He added 35 for the fifth wicket with Amitoze Singh but the most productive was the unbroken 91 for the sixth with Bipul, who rounded off a productive day with an unbeaten 41, hitting three sixes. Punjab will play Bengal in the semis on Saturday.
Coincidentally at the Feroz Shah Kotla, the team batting first was restricted to 175. Delhi were the victors, beating Railways by seven wickets to set up the semis clash with Mumbai. The Delhi seamers, Rajat Bhatia, Parvinder Awana, Pradeep Sangwan and Pawan Suyal shared nine wickets between them after opting to field first. Ashish Yadav was the only Railways batsman to show some resistance, hitting 59 at No.7. Railways were struggling at one stage at 56 for 6, before their lower order battled it out to last till the 50th over.
With Delhi reinforced by the early return of Gautam Gambhir from Australia, the target of 176 was hardly going to test them. Gambhir made an unbeaten 34, but the chase was anchored by Shikhar Dhawan who made a run-a-ball 69. Dhawan added 97 with fellow opener Mohit Sharma to shut Railways out of the game.