Mushtaq Ali Trophy: Irfan leads Baroda to victory

Irfan kept the pressure on Madhya Pradesh batsmen with frequent bowling changes to disrupt the visitors’ chase as the Ojha’s side was bowled out for 128.

Irfan Pathan not only scored an unbeaten 27 off 12 balls, but picked up four wickets.   -  M. A. Sriram

Irfan Pathan stood tall at the crease to attack Madhya Pradesh bowlers, and returned to take four wickets, leading Baroda to a 53-run victory in a Mushtaq Ali Trophy Group C match at the Reliance stadium. Baroda's an all-round display helped them notch their fourth win on the trot, as their points tally moved to 16. Baroda are joint leaders with Delhi, who are also unbeaten after four ties and had a rest day.

Naman Ojha expressed his disappointment at the outcome with nothing going right for the Madhya Pradesh captain.

Baroda’s 181 for five was entertainment for fans, but tough on Madhya Pradesh bowlers. Irfan kept the pressure on Madhya Pradesh batsmen with frequent bowling changes to disrupt the visitors’ chase as the Ojha’s side was bowled out for 128.

Hardik Pandya stole the show with a rapid-fire 48 off 31 balls for Baroda, and young off-spinner Soaeb Tai asserted himself on the MP batsmen with three for 27 from his four overs. The all-rounder, Pandya, hit four boundareis, two sixes in a display of slick footwork and fast hands. Captain Irfan (27) delighted the crowd with shots on the rise, with pulls and drives. Opener Kedar Devdhar (31 off 26) set the tone for the team. Deepak Hooda got run-out at non-striker’s end as the ball rolled onto the stumps from the bowler’s outstretched hand.

MP’s talented attack was exposed for the first time and could do little except wait for batsmen’s mistakes. Ishwar Pandey (4-0-39-1) was punished in his second spell. Slow bowler Ankit Sharma bagged two wickets.

Baroda’s spirited defence was marked by two stunning catches. Soaeb took a screamer off his own bowling and Swapnil Singh reacted quickly at point to grab a fierce cut by Jalaj Saxena with ease.

Medium-pacer Rishi Arothe (two for 12), Pathan (four for 43) and Tai were successful against depleted MP batsmen. The visitors suffered their second defeat from five matches (12 points) and face Assam on Saturday after Friday’s rest day.

BRIEF SCORES

Baroda 181 for five in 20 overs (Kedar Devdhar 31, Mrunal Devdhar 33, Hardik Pandya 48, Irfan Pathan 27 n.o.; Ankit Sharma two for 34) beat Madhya Pradesh 128 in 16.4 overs (Harpreet Singh 52, Irfan Pathan four for 34, Soaeb Tai three for 27, Rishi Arothe two for 12) by 53 runs.

Andhra 117 for 8 in 20 overs (A. G. Pradeep 26; J Syed Mohammad three for 15, Abu Nechim Ahmed two for 14) beat Assam 105 in 19.3 overs (J Syed Mohammad 42; Cheepurapalli Stephen four for 14) by 12 runs.

Railways 165 for eight in 20 overs (Asad Pathan 36, Saurabh Wakaskar 39, Karn Sharma 30; Saurabh Bandekar four for 25) beat Goa 116 for nine in 20 overs (Rituraj Singh 29; Karn Sharma five for 24, Ranjit Mali four for 24) by 49 runs.