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Feature

Parag's blazing 174 helps Assam mow down 351 against J&K

Jani's all-round performance knocks TN out and sets up semi-final clash against Karnataka

File photo - Riyan Parag led the way for Assam once again  •  BCCI

File photo - Riyan Parag led the way for Assam once again  •  BCCI

Ruturaj Gaikwad's unbeaten 220, which included a List A record of seven sixes in an over, and Riyan Parag's 174 were the highlights for Maharashtra and Assam respectively as they cruised into the semi-finals of the 2022-23 Vijay Hazare Trophy.
Karnataka and Saurashtra will now face each other in the first semi-final while the other semi-final will be contested between Maharashtra and Assam.
Maharashtra beat Uttar Pradesh by 58 runs after Gaikwad's 13th List A century powered them to 330 for 5. It was an innings that hardly got out of second gear until the 30th over, before Gaikwad helped them flick a switch. The assault reached a crescendo in the 49th over when Gaikwad took apart left-arm spinner Shiva Singh, who had acceptable figures until then. He eventually ended with 9-0-88-0.
Uttar Pradesh also had a centurion in Aryan Juyal, but lack of partnerships in the middle order scuppered their chase. Juyal's 159 off 143 balls - his third List A century - helped UP get close to the target, but it was always going to be a tall order to win from 154 for 7 in the 32nd over. Shivam Sharma's 33 at No. 9 was the next-best score for UP. Rajvardhan Hangargekar, the bristling 20-year-old seam-bowling allrounder, picked up his maiden List A five-for to dismantle UP. He was later called on by Gaikwad to share the Player-of-the-match award.
Parag, Juyal's India Under-19 team-mate from the batch of 2018, set the stage alight at the Gujarat college ground, with his third List A hundred, to help Assam chase down an imposing 351 against Jammu & Kashmir.
Incidentally, all of Parag's centuries have come in this tournament, which makes him the third-highest run-getter this season. He has aggregated 537 runs in eight innings at an average of 76.71 and a strike rate of 122.88. He has also picked up nine wickets, the timing of it significant given there's been plenty of debate around batters in the top six who can bowl when it comes to the national team. Parag's knock shaded centuries from J&K's Shubham Khajuria and Henan Nazir.
In Nadiad, Saurashtra's Chirag Jani displayed his all-round capabilities as Tamil Nadu's campaign came to a halt. Jani's 31-ball 52 not out gave Saurashtra late impetus as they put up a strong 293 for 8, which was 44 too many for TN. Jani also picked up three wickets with his seam-ups to close out the game.
TN's marauding opening pair of B Sai Sudharsan and N Jagadeesan, who had put up five 150-plus opening partnerships in the league phase, managed just 24 and 8 respectively, and their early dismissals exposed a middle order that hadn't been tested much. When the returning Dinesh Karthik was dismissed for 9, TN were tottering at 51 for 4. R Sai Kishore made a valiant, career-best 74, but lack of partnerships hurt TN's quest to gun down the target.
At the Motera, Abhishek Sharma's 109 went in vain as Punjab were beaten by Karnataka. Sharma's knock laid the foundation for a fighting 235 from Punjab but that wasn't enough even against a misfiring Karnataka line-up.
R Samarth top-scored with 71 to cover enough ground early in the chase to help overcome a middle-order wobble. Vidwath Kaverappa, the seamer, was Karnataka's best bowler with figures of 4 for 50. With 16 wickets in seven games, Kaverappa is currently the third-highest wicket-taker this season.