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In what turned out to be a low-scoring semi-final round, Tamil Nadu imploded for 59 to hand Bengal a 55-run win at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad.
Chosing to bat, Bengal began poorly, being reduced to 8 for 2 in the fifth over. Coming in at No.4, captain Manoj Tiwary counterattacked, stroking five massive sixes in an innings of 69 off 44 balls. He did not find a reliable partner though, as wickets continued to tumble at the other end. The second highest contribution of the innings came from wicketkeeper, Wriddhiman Saha, with 19. Lakshmipathy Balaji was the pick of the Tamil Nadu bowlers, picking up two wickets at 4.50 runs an over.
Chasing a target that required them to score at less than a run a ball, Tamil Nadu fell behind right away. Ashok Dinda was on a hat-trick in the first over of the innings, after bowling Anirudha Srikkanth and getting Ganapathi Vignesh to edge to the keeper for a golden duck. Tamil Nadu never recovered, losing three wickets with the score on 11, to be reduced to 11 for 6 in the seventh over. The only sizable contribution came from Arun Karthik, who was unbeaten on 35 off 26 balls when the innings folded on 59. Medium-pacer Sayan Mondal wrecked the middle order with four wickets and a run out.
Bengal will meet Madhya Pradesh in the final at the same venue on March 16.
Madhya Pradesh set up the final clash with Bengal, defeating Haryana by two wickets with one ball to spare in a thrilling second match of the day at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad.
Being asked to bowl, Madhya Pradesh knocked over the top half of the Haryana line-up in a hurry, to leave them 23 for 5 in the seventh over. Cameos from Nitin Saini, Joginder Sharma and Amit Mishra made sure Haryana played out their 20 overs though, finishing with 115 for 9. Madhya Pradesh's pace trio of TP Sudhindra, Anand Rajan and Amarjeet Singh shared the wickets around.
Madhya Pradesh's reply was built around a 47-run fourth-wicket partnership between Udit Birla and Harpreet Singh, after Sharma and Kuldeep Hooda made early inroads. There was no much resistance otherwise, but Madhya Pradesh did just enough to edge out Haryana in a nail-biting last over that included Birla's wicket, a run-out and a first-ball boundary from No. 10 batsman Sudhindra to seal the victory.
Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy
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