Mushtaq Ali Trophy: UP secure knockout berth

The players from smaller cities and towns, which generally make up the teams of U.P. and Maharshtra, impressed more with their attitude and performance that overshadowed their opponents from big cities.

Umang Sharma came to Uttar Pradesh's rescue when they struggled in the beginning.   -  Special Arrangement

Uttar Pradesh continued to prosper with a strong batting performance as they beat Mumbai by four wickets for its fourth straight win in a Group D match here. Much like its previous three wins, U.P. thrived on the strength of its batsmen at the Barabati Stadium and became the first team to secure a ticket to the final knock-out stage.

Like U.P., another unheralded side Maharashtra cruised to a convincing 26-run win against favourites Karnakata to brighten its qualification chances. Suffering its third loss in four outings, Karnataka crashed out of the tournament. Maharashtra’s batsmen scored 185 after batting first and then produced a disciplined bowling effort to get Karnataka 26 runs short of its total.

Maharashtra now needs to beat Mumbai in the fifth and final round on Friday to ensure the other qualification berth in the group. Meanwhile, Services chased 176 against hosts Odisha in the third match at the DRIEMS ground, to preserve a faint hope of qualification.

The players from smaller cities and towns, which generally make up the teams of U.P. and Maharshtra, impressed more with their attitude and performance that overshadowed their opponents from big cities.

Umang Sharma, hailing from Meerut, came to the service of Uttar Pradesh at a time when the team struggled at 73 for three losing the top order batsmen: Prashant Gupta (33), Samarth Singh (16) and captain Suresh Raina (20). Sharma struck two sixes and four boundaries and remained unbeaten on 47, helping UP get past the target with two balls to spare. This eclipsed the outstanding effort of Mumbai opener Shreyas Iyer, who blasted the U.P. bowlers all across the park in his 43-ball 78 and laid the foundation for Mumbai, which also gained contributions from Akhil Herwadkar (28), captain Aditya Tare (20) and the journeyman Abhishek Nayar (22 not out).

Young Maharashtra batsman from Sindhudurg, Nikhil Naik (67 off 45 balls) showcased his grit and technique in punishing a fairly good bowling line-up of Karnataka. His best moment of the match came in the 15th over when he hit Shreyas Gopal for three consecutive sixes. In reply, Karnataka crumbled under pressure losing wickets from the beginning. Robin Uthappa, who was dropped three times at the scores of 37, 49 and 59, utilized his chances to score 80 (off 52 balls).

Results:

>Uttar Pradesh beat Mumbai by 4 wickets

>Maharashtra beat Karnataka by 26 runs