Fiery bowling from India left-arm pacer Zaheer Khan secured defending champions Baroda a 136-run win over Punjab as also a place in the Ranji Trophy final. Zaheer claimed 6-25 as Punjab were bowled out for just 82 in their second innings on Day three at the Gujarat State Fertilizer Corporation Ground, Baroda.
Baroda, who began the day on 189 for eight, reached 233 in their second innings before being dismissed in their second essay. No. 7 Ajit Bhoite, who made a patient 66, was the batting star for the home team. Zaheer, also contributed his mite, making a hard-hitting 35 off just 33 balls, an innings laced with four fours and two powerful sixes. Left-arm pacer Amit Uniyal, who claimed four wickets, and off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, who claimed three wickets, were the most successful bowlers for the visitors.
Punjab, by virtue of their 15-run first innings lead, had to only chase 219 for a win. But Zaheer's six wickets saw the visitors crumble way behind that target in just 30 overs. Only four batsmen in the powerful Punjab line-up got into double figures; skipper Pankaj Dharmani top-scoring with 20.
His opening partner, Rakesh Patel, for his part, claimed two wickets while medium-pacer Shekhar Joshi and spinner Valmik Buch shared the remaining two wickets.
Baroda now await the winners of the Railways v Bengal tie being played at the Karnail Singh Stadium, Delhi.