An attacking half-century (51 off 25) from Sumeet Verma followed by a three-wicket haul (3/25) from Rishi Dhawan helped Himachal Pradesh reach the finals of Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy (SMAT) 2022 with a 13-run victory over Punjab in the first semifinal at the Eden Gardens, here on Thursday.
Put in to bat first, Himachal posted a strong total of 176/7 from their 20 overs on the back of fifty from Sumeet and Akash Vasisth’s impressive 43. In reply, Punjab kept losing wickets at regular intervals and were restricted to 163/7 in 20 overs, falling short of the target by 13 runs.
Chasing a challenging target, top-scorer Shubman Gill (45 off 32) looked solid at the top but he didn’t get much support from others. However, once Gill got out in the 10th over Punjab were left in a spot of bother at 61/3.
Anmolpreet Singh (30) then took Punjab over the 100-run mark and the identical cameos of 29 off 15 from skipper Mandeep Singh and Ramandeep Singh lower down the order kept the hope alive.
However, Rishi Dhawan, who was the pick of the bowlers for Himachal, struck at crucial intervals to push Punjab back. After removing Abhishek cheaply in the fourth over, he returned to break the fourth-wicket partnership at 37 and then again lent a crucial blow by dismissing Ramandeep on the last ball of the penultimate over.
Punjab needed 29 off the final over and skipper Mandeep’s six and a four didn’t prove enough for the team.
Earlier, Abhishek Sharma struck twice to have Himachal down to 51/3 at the start of the ninth over. But, Verma and Vasisth’s 46-run stand for the fourth wicket put the innings back on the right track.
Verma was more aggressive and hit three sixes and as many fours in his 25-ball knock that came at a strike rate of 204. He took Mayank Markande to the cleaners with 4, 6, 6 off successive deliveries at the start of the 10th over before welcoming Harpreet Brar back into the attack with a six and a four more.
His fifty came off just 23 balls but Verma fell soon after, having contributed 37 in that lopsided partnership. Thereafter, Vasisht took charge and along with Pankaj Jaiswal (27 off 16) stitched a 47-run stand to set up HP for their match-winning total.
Brief scores: Himachal Pradesh 176/7 in 20 overs (Sumeet Verma 51, Akash Vasisht 43; Abhishek Sharma 2-20, Sanvir Singh 2-17) beat Punjab 163/7 in 20 overs (Shubman Gill 45, Mandeep Singh 29 not out, Ramandeep Singh 29; Rishi Dhawan 3-25, Mayank Dagar 2-27) by 13 runs