Kerala, Himachal, Maharashtra boost qualification hopes with crucial wins



Pant scored a fighting century in a losing cause. © BCCI

Qualification to the knockout stage for the Vijay Hazare Trophy was thrown wide open in Group B following victories for Kerala, Himachal Pradesh and Maharashtra on Thursday (February 15). While Delhi are at the top of the table with 16 points, having played all their group games, their qualification for the knock-out stage isn’t guaranteed yet. Kerala, Maharashtra and Himachal Pradesh are tied at 14 points and each have a game in hand. Himachal will play against Bengal and a victory will take them to 16 points. In a shoot-out between Kerala and Maharashtra, the winner of this game will have 16 points too, giving rise to the possibility of a three-way tie and getting Net Run Rate into play, although Himachal’s NRR is in the negative.

Delhi vs Himachal Pradesh

Rishabh Pant’s 93-ball 135 went in vain as Himachal Pradesh registered a crucial win against Delhi, overcoming the Group B table-toppers by a narrow margin of two runs in a high-scoring encounter at the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Stadium in Nadaun. Chasing 305, Delhi were bowled out for 302 in the final over of the chase. Pankaj Jaiswal bowled an excellent final over, dismissing Pradeep Sangwan and captain Ishant Sharma as Delhi’s innings came to an end with two deliveries still remaining. Reduced to 92 for 3, Pant and Nitish Rana scripted Delhi’s recovery. Although they lost quick wickets after that, the presence of Pant gave Delhi hope until he departed in the 47th over to leave the scoreboard reading 289 for 8. Delhi’s tail took it close but they could not finish it off and had to suffer their second successive loss. Earlier, Himachal’s total of 304 was set up by Prashant Chopra, who scored a 149-ball 150 after they opted to bat. Amit Kumar contributed with a half-century and was involved in a 110-run stand for the second with Prashant while Rishi Dhawan provided the late blitz with a 21-ball 29.

Brief scores: Himachal Pradesh 304/5 in 50 overs (Prashant Chopra 150, Amit Kumar 52; Ishant Sharma 2-39) beat Delhi 302 in 49.4 overs (Rishabh Pant 135, Nitish Rana 52; Rishi Dhawan 3-38) by 2 runs.

Kerala vs Uttar Pradesh

A collective effort from the batsmen and the bowlers helped Kerala register a 120-run victory against Uttar Pradesh at the HPCA Stadium in Dharamsala. Rohan Prem and Arun Karthik scored half-centuries while Jalaj Saxena and Sachin Baby came up with useful 30s to help Kerala finish with 261 for 9 after being asked to bat. Mohsin Khan was the pick of the bowlers for UP, finishing with 4 for 43 from his 10 overs. UP kept losing wickets at regular intervals in the chase as Sandeep Warrier and KC Akshay did the bulk of the damage, picking up three wickets apiece. That Mohammad Saif’s 31 was the top score for UP highlighted their batting plight as they ended up being bowled out for 141 in the 40th over to suffer their third loss in five games and were knocked out of contention of a quarterfinal berth in the process.

Brief scores: Kerala 261/9 in 50 overs (Rohan Prem 66*, Arun Karthik 54; Mohsin Khan 4-43) beat Uttar Pradesh 141 in 39.2 overs (Mohammad Saif 31; KC Akshay 3-32, Sandeep Warrier 3-32) by 120 runs.

Maharashtra vs Tripura

Ruturaj Gaikwad’s 105-ball 115 helped Maharashtra chase down a target of 223 with four wickets in hand and five deliveries to spare at the Lohnu Cricket Ground in Bilaspur in a match reduced to 42 overs per side due to a wet outfield. Opting to bat first, Tripura lost Saurabh Das early in their innings before Joydeep Banik and Smit Patel were involved in a useful partnership. However, Tripura lost four wickets for 15 runs to be reduced to 99 for 5. Manisankar Murasingh, Yashpal Singh and Shyam Gan came up with useful knocks to help Tripura overcome the struggles and post a competitive total of 222. Gaikwad’s 102-run association for the second wicket with half-centurion Ankit Bawne kept Maharashtra on course in the chase. They stuttered a bit towards the end losing a few wickets before getting over the line in the final over.

Brief scores: Tripura 222/7 in 42 overs (Manisankar Murasingh 55, Smit Patel 38; Satyajeet Bachhav 2-17) lost to Maharashtra 223/6 in 41.1 overs (Ruturaj Gaikwad 115, Ankit Bawne 51; Abhijit Sarkar 2-40) by 4 wickets.

© Cricbuzz


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