Mushtaq Ali Trophy: Baroda crush Mumbai’s hopes

Mumbai was tantalisingly close to enter their second final of Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy after 2007, but number ten Bhargav Bhatt’s cracking drive over mid-off in the final ball of the 19th over crashed Mumbai’s hopes.

Players from the Baroda dug-out swarm the field after a thrilling one-wicket win.   -  Special Arrangement

Mumbai last made it to the final of India’s domestic T20 tournament (apart from the IPL) was in 2007, when it was not even named as the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. Another final seemed tantalisingly close today after they picked three of Baroda’s wickets in the penultimate over, defending 151. But number ten Bhargav Bhatt’s cracking drive over mid-off in the final ball of the 19th over crashed Mumbai’s hopes.

Baroda thus pipped Mumbai and Kerala on the basis of net run rate and set up a final against Uttar Pradesh.

After folding up the Vidarbha innings for a paltry 105, Kerala required to chase it down in 15.1 overs to stake a claim for the final, which they couldn’t.

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Mumbai started the game on a disappointing note, with in-form Shreyas Iyer and Aditya Tare throwing their wickets away to Munaf Patel and Irfan Pathan, respectively.

However, Suryakumar Yadav’s maiden T20 fifty took Mumbai past the 150-mark. An upper cut off Hardik Pandya for a boundary in the 15th over was executed very well. Baroda had to cross Mumbai’s 151 in 19.1 overs to progress to its third T20 final.

Dhawal Kulkarni gave Mumbai the perfect start, removing Kedar Devdhar off the first ball of the innings. Devdhar’s younger brother, Mrunal, then tried to revive his team before leggie Pravin Tambe foxed him with a wrong-un.

Deepak Hooda then took on the challenge. Despite Tambe getting through Pandya’s defence in the 11th over and Yusuf Pathan faltering yet again, Hooda continued to garner boundaries at will. Just as Baroda were cruising towards the final, the tide turned in Mumbai’s favour with Hooda and skipper Irfan falling in a space of six balls.

Pinal Shah and Soaeb Tai then brought Mumbai back into the game, adding 19 runs in 13 balls. With nine runs required, Shah lofted Trivedi straight into Yadav’s hands at long-on. The next ball, Tai swept from outside off over square leg to give Baroda the advantage.

But the balance shifted again as Tai mistimed a pull off the next ball to Iyer at mid-wicket. In the next ball, Bhargav ran Rishi Arothe out, trying to get the strike back. With three runs required off two balls, Bhatt took a calculated risk off a fuller-length ball. It worked wonderfully well for his team. While the left-hander will remember the shot and the wild celebrations that followed, the Mumbai players would like to forget it and will try to focus on the Ranji Trophy knockouts.

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