CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu sailed into the second successive semifinal of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, beating Himachal Pradesh by five wickets, in Ahmedabad on Tuesday. Dinesh Karthik’s men proved they have enough depth in the line-up as they chased down the target of 136 after losing half their players for 66. That they have built a team sans five key players and have made it six out of six wins in the competition speaks about their bench strength.
Until 14th over of the chase against Himachal, it looked like the last season’s runner-up would not make it to the semifinal with the required run rate touching 10. It was the 15th over that put Tamil Nadu back in the game when Baba Aparajith and M Shahrukh Khan combinedly hit 19 off Himachal’s lead pacer, Vaibhav Arora.
Unfazed by the scoreboard pressure, Aparajith — the No 3 — notched up his first half-century of the season and stitched a crucial 75-run partnership with Shahrukh for the sixth wicket to take the team home. Shahrukh, who is known for his explosive hitting, scored an unbeaten 19-ball 40 to turn the tables around. Earlier, Tamil Nadu restricted Himachal to 135 for nine with R Sonu Yadav and Sandeep Warrier sharing five wickets between them. Skipper Rishi Dhawan top-scored for Himachal with a 26-ball 35.
Defending champions out
Karnataka’s struggle with the bat continued on Tuesday as they were knocked out by Punjab in the quarterfinal of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy in Ahmedabad. The defending champions faltered against a quality pace-attack of Punjab and were bowled out for a paltry 87 at Sardar Vallabhai Patel Stadium. Punjab reached the target with ease in the 13th over to win the contest by nine wickets.
Brief scores (quarterfinals): Karnataka 87 in 17.2 ovs (Siddarth Kaul 3/15) lost to Punjab 89/1 in 12.4 ovs (Prabhsimran 49 n.o, Mandeep Singh 35 n.o). Himachal Pradesh 135/9 in 20 ovs lost to TN 141/5 in 17.5 ovs (Aparajith 52 n.o, Shahrukh 40 n.o).