When Abhimanyusingh Rajput got Assam’s Riyan Parag caught at the deep midwicket, a loud scream roared around here at the PCA IS Bindra Stadium and the whole Baroda team jumped in joy on Saturday.
The pacer had got Parag, the highest run scorer of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2023, cheaply and Krunal Pandya’s side assumed complete control over the semifinal post that dismissal.
Abhimanyusingh’s four wickets restricted Assam to a modest total of 144, setting up the game for Baroda batters to win by six wickets with 23 balls to spare.
Ninad Rathva and Jyotsnil Singh (37, 29b, 2x4, 3x6) made merry of the dewy conditions in the second innings that kept bringing super soppers and the ropes into play even between overs.
The duo gave a terrific start for Baroda, adding 81 runs for the opening wicket in 41 balls. Rathva was the aggressor among the two as he scored 44 runs off 26 balls and got out in the deep trying to hit his second six.
However, it was Jyotsnil who pushed Assam on the backfoot as he smoked three sixes and a four off Parag’s first four balls of the game and the captain didn’t bowl himself for the next eight overs.
Despite the cool conditions, Assam fielders threw themselves on the field to save as many runs as possible. But they could only do so much as Baroda batters kept finding the gap to run and find the fence regularly.
Assam pacers switched to back of the length and short ball tactics that did provide a bit of a scare as Baroda lost four wickets in quick succession. However, Vishnu Solanki (17, 17b, 1x4) once again took the responsibility to finish the game off.
Earlier, until the wicket of Parag in the 12th over, Assam appeared to be in command of its innings. Denish Das had a great start with his 32 from 20 balls, while Rishav Das (48, 41b, 3x4, 2x6) was doing well.
But Parag’s wicket, with 86 runs on the board, brought in the collapse as the team lost its last seven wickets in 57 runs and eventually the 143/10 total wasn’t enough for Assam to enter its first-ever SMAT final.
Baroda will take on Punjab in the final on Monday, November 6.
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