Mushtaq Ali Trophy: Brilliant Dogra wins it for HP

Against Tamil Nadu on Saturday, Paras Dogra smashed a brutal 79 off just 33 balls (7x4, 5x6) as Himachal Pradesh ran away with the game to keep alive its hopes of making the Super League in Mumbai.

Himachal Pradesh batsman Paras Dogra in action.   -  Shiv Kumar Pushpakr

Since 2011, Paras Dogra has scored at least one double century in every edition of the Ranji Trophy. That’s an enviable record because the 31-year-old is one of only two batsmen — Ajay Sharma is the other — with seven such scores in the country’s premier domestic competition. This year, Dogra has hardly put a foot wrong. With 703 runs in the Ranji Trophy, 258 in the Vijay Hazare Trophy and 183 in the ongoing Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, he is one of the most consistent performers around.

Against Tamil Nadu on Saturday, Dogra smashed a brutal 79 off just 33 balls (7x4, 5x6) as Himachal Pradesh ran away with the game to keep alive its hopes of making the Super League in Mumbai. Employing a stance that allows him to unleash some open-chested misery on the bowlers, Dogra’s brand of clean hitting is as violent as anybody’s. Chasing 169 for its third win of the competition, Dogra single-handedly took Himachal past the finishing line in just 16.5 overs.

Sunday promises to be a cracker of a day as toppers Vidarbha (Points: 16; Net Run Rate: -0.258), Tamil Nadu (12; +1.258), defending champion Gujarat (12; +0.718) and Himachal (12; +0.239) are all in contention for the two available knockout berths. Hyderabad, Bengal and Haryana are out.

Dogra walked in at the fall of Prashant Chopra in the seventh over. He started off with a ferocious cut for four before obliging his teammates with some astonishing six hitting. Lage raho, Paras bhai, someone would scream from the Himachal dugout. And Dogra would do just that. At the fag end of the game, the ball soared so high that it took the organisers a few minutes to fetch it from the remote corners of the virtually empty stadium.

Earlier, Tamil Nadu opener K. Bharath Shankar (41, 24b, 9x4) impressed on debut. A middle-order collapse reduced the ‘Yellow Brigade’ to 93 for six, and that’s when skipper R. Satish turned on the style with an unbeaten 21-ball 41 (3x4, 3x6) in the company of J. Kousik (27 n.o., 18b, 1x4, 2x6). Tamil Nadu collected 65 off the last five overs, including an astonishing 25 in the last over bowled by Akshay Chauhan.

Vidarbha goes on top, Haryana gets off the mark

Apoorv Wankhade (43 n.o., 31b, 2x4, 1x6) and Urvesh Patel (33, 26b, 3x4) shared 68 runs for the fifth wicket as host Vidarbha beat Hyderabad by five wickets to register its fourth straight victory and zoom to the top of the points table.

Amit Mishra (4-0-30-4) led from the front as Haryana finally opened its account in the competition with a 17-run win over Bengal.

>Tamil Nadu lost to Himachal Pradesh (Full scorecard and ball-by-ball details)

>Hyderabad lost to Vidarbha (Full scorecard and ball-by-ball details)

>Haryana bt Bengal (Full scorecard and ball-by-ball details)