MUMBAI: It was jubilation for Haryana and heartbreak for Kerala when the two teams met each other in the Group E encounter of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy T20 tournament at the Wankhede Stadium on Tuesday.
In the end, Kerala fell short by four runs as Haryana maintained their perfect winning record and qualified from the group.
Haryana came into the game as the group leaders with 16 points while it was a must-win game for Kerala to have any chance of qualifying as they were on 12 points.
Sanju Samson won the toss and chose to field first. The strategy of putting the opposition into bat had worked well for the southern side as they won all the three games in which they chased.
In the last match against Andhra, they were asked to bat first and the team struggled collectively.
Back at the Wankhede for their final game, the Kerala bowlers struggled to keep the runs in check as Haryana posted 198 for 6 from 20 overs.
Opener Chaitanya Bishnoi gave Haryana a good start with a 29-ball 45 while Shivam Chauhan went on to become the top-scorer with 59 from 34 balls.
A late onslaught by Rahul Tewatia down the order powered Haryana close to the two-hundred mark as he struck 41 from just 26 balls.
While most Kerala bowlers leaked runs, part-time bowler Sachin Baby returned impressive figures of 2 for 26 from his four overs while Jalaj Saxena also got two wickets.
Kerala lost their opener Robin Uthappa early on in the chase. The veteran batsman departed in the second over after making just eight runs.
Sanju and Mohammed Azharuddeen steadied their innings with the skipper scoring his first fifty in this edition.
Chasing a challenging total, the team needed Sanju to step up and while he scored a half-century, the 26-year-old threw away his wicket immediately after reaching his fifty as Sumit Kumar broke the 81-run stand between the two.
Kerala lost wickets in quick succession, Azhar falling to Sumit just four balls later. With Kerala in a spot of bother, their vice-captain Sachin almost single-handedly took the fight to the opposition and got them over the line.
He smashed a brilliant 68 from 36 balls, a knock that included three boundaries and six sixes. The highlight of his innings was two consecutive sixes off Chahal.
The equation came down to 12 needed from the last over and Haryana skipper Mohit Sharma threw the ball to Arun Chaprana.
The pacer managed to defend the total even though Sachin was there at the crease for the final over. The former Kerala skipper was run out thanks to some brilliant fielding by Shivam Chauhan which effectively ended any hopes.
Brief scores: Haryana 198/6 in 20 ovs (Chauhan 59, Bishnoi 45, Jalaj 2/25) bt Kerala 194/6 in 20 ovs (Sachin 68, Sanju 51, SP Kumar 2/16)