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Twenty20: Tamil Nadu to clash with Punjab in final
Haresh Pandya in Ahmedabad | April 19, 2007 17:51 IST
Last Updated: April 20, 2007 01:24 IST
Though Mumbai defeated Bengal by 31 runs in their last Group B match of the Inter-State Twenty20 tournament at the Sardar Patel Gujarat Stadium at Motera, Ahmedabad, on Thursday night, they still could not make it to the final in the first edition of the National championship.
Instead, it is Tamil Nadu who will clash with Punjab in the final, to be played in Mumbai on April 21. The latter topped Group A after an emphatic 71-run win over Orissa, at the Wankhede stadium in Mumbai on Thursday.
Mumbai and Tamil Nadu secured six points each, both having won three matches in Group B, but Tamil Nadu progressed to the final on account of their victory over Mumbai.
Of course, if Bengal had beaten Mumbai on Thursday night, they would have reached the final, as they had earlier defeated Tamil Nadu.
The Bengal players ought to blame themselves for having squandered a golden opportunity. They failed to chase an easy-looking target despite boasting an impressive batting line-up, headed by Sourav Ganguly, and virtually gifted the tie to Mumbai.
Ganguly fell to Mussavir Khote for just 7. But for Laxmi Ratan Shukla (48 not out off 35 balls � inclusive of two fours and two sixes) and in-form captain Manoj Tewary (36 off 41 balls - two fours and a six), who played some brilliant cricket, Bengal would probably not have scored even 100. They eventually posted at 117 for 6 in 20 overs, 31 runs short of Mumbai's total.
Mumbai, too, did not post an imposing total on winning the toss and electing to bat, especially after getting a rousing start from openers Tendulkar (38 off 26 balls � four fours and a six) and Ajinkya Rahane (33 off 35 balls � three fours).
Skipper Amol Muzumdar made 34 off 24 deliveries and Rohit Sharma 16 off as many balls. At the end of 20 overs, Mumbai were 148 for 6. Bengal captain Tewary took 2 for 7 in his only over.
Between Sunday and Thursday, the much-expected spectators were conspicuous by their absence at the ground, even for the night matches, despite the Gujarat Cricket Association throwing the gates open.
Why, even matches featuring stars like Tendulkar, Zaheer Khan, Ajit Agarkar, Sourav Ganguly and Dinesh Kaarthick -- to name some prominent players -- did not attract the crowds to the Motera.
Maybe, fans have still not forgiven the Indian cricketers for their shock defeat in the World Cup. Maybe, the new-fangled Twenty20 is yet to appeal or attract them. Surely, players like Tendulkar and Ganguly must have found it strange playing this slam-bang variety of the game in front of almost empty stands.
Tamil Nadu defeat Madhya Pradesh
Earlier on Thursday morning, Tamil Nadu defeated Madhya Pradesh by 12 runs in their last Group B match to keep alive their hopes of making it to the final.
Tamil Nadu, with consecutive victories over Haryana and Madhya Pradesh, dashed Mumbai's hopes of making it to the final, having defeated Mumbai from a losing position on Monday.
It was yet another low-scoring match and if the Madhya Pradesh batsmen had shown some application, they would have won the game and disturbed all calculations.
Batting first, Tamil Nadu were all out for 143 in 19.3 overs against some very good bowling by Anand Rajan and T. Sudhindar, who claimed 3 for 34 and 2 for 19 respectively.
M Vijay with 35 off 29 balls (2x4, 1x6) was the top scorer for Tamil Nadu. Dinesh Kaarthick (27) and S Vidyut (25) again batted well and lent respectability to their team's score.
Madhya Pradesh, which has not done well in this competition, had a chance to salvage some pride. But they could score only 131 for 5 in the stipulated 20 overs, with M Pasha (25) and Rahul Bakshi (23 not out) making useful contributions.
Madhya Pradesh's excessively cautious approach was a bit surprising, considering they had nothing to lose, being already out of the tournament.
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