Ahmedabad, January 29: Arun Karthik’s sensational knock and M Mohammed’s four-wicket haul helped Tamil Nadu reach the final of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy with a comfortable seven-wicket win over Rajasthan here at the Motera Stadium on Friday.
Despite restricting Rajasthan to 154/9 in their 20 overs, Tamil Nadu found it hard to get going in the initial stages of the chase. But Arun Karthik (89*) and skipper Dinesh Karthik (26) ensured they reached their target with eight balls to spare.
Sloppy fielding and dropped catches just spurred Rajasthan’s defeat in the first semi-final. With five required from the last two overs, Arun smashed two fours to fire his side into the final of the tournament.
Chasing 155, Tamil Nadu lost opener Hari Nishanth (4) early as he became Tanveer-Ul-Haq’s only victim. Baba Aparajith (2) too failed during the chase and went back cheaply as the side lost two wickets for 17 runs.
N Jagadeesan and Arun added 52 runs for the third wicket to rebuild Tamil Nadu’s innings after the early blows. Jagadeesan made a run-a-ball 28 before holding out to Mahipal Lomror in the tenth over.
Tamil Nadu were 70/3 after the completion of ten overs, way behind Rajasthan’s tally and Jagadeesan’s wicket proved to be a blessing in disguise.
With skipper Karthik at the crease, Arun allowed himself to take risks and started hammering Rajasthan bowlers all around the park. He first whacked a six off the first ball of the 13th over and then struck three fours in the next over to put Tamil Nadu back in the chase.
Earlier, after electing to bat, Rajasthan suffered an early jolt as they lost opener Bharat Sharma in the first over. Aditya Garhwal and skipper Ashok Menaria then proceeded cautiously but Baba Aparajith struck off the final ball of the fifth over as Rajasthan lost both openers before the completion of powerplay.
Wanting to make the most of the fielding restrictions, Menaria hammered Aswin Crist for 19 runs in the sixth over as Rajasthan counter-attacked. The side made a comeback with skipper Menaria and Arjit Gupta’s half-century partnership as Rajasthan reached 89 for the loss of two wickets at the halfway mark. Arjit and Menaria kept the innings rolling with their 83-run third-wicket stand before Sai Kishore sent the Rajasthan skipper back to the pavilion in the 14th over.
In the next over, M Mohammed struck — his first wicket of the day — as Rajasthan lost their fourth wicket. With five overs to go and 130 runs on board, Rajasthan lost track and struggled to score in the death overs.
Rajasthan crawled over the 150-run mark as Mohammed picked three wickets in the final over. Despite a quickfire 51 off 32 balls from skipper Menaria and a 45 off 35 balls from Arjit, Rajasthan could only manage to reach 154/9 in 20 overs. Later in the day, Punjab will take on Baroda in the second semi-final of the showpiece event.
Brief Scores: Rajasthan 154/9 (Ashok Menaria 51; M Mohammed 4-24); Tamil Nadu 158/3 (Arun Karthik 89 *; Tanveer-Ul-Haq 1-22).
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