The claps and hooting in the Punjab dugout grew louder with each thud off Abhishek Sharma and Mandeep Singh’s bat as they helped their team into the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2023 final after beating Delhi by six wickets at the PCA IS Bindra Stadium in Mohali on Saturday.
Abhishek’s 77-run knock and Mandeep’s unbeaten 63 from 36 balls got the limited crowd on its feet when Punjab chased down an 184-run target with more than an over to spare.
A cover drive for four got Abhishek going but the situation was such that the opener had to limit his strokeplay after losing three partners inside the PowerPlay.
However, he ensured to keep Punjab in the chase by taking on Delhi’s best bowler of the tournament, Suyash Sharma, hitting him for a six and a four on the first two balls of his spell.
Taking on Suyash made Abhishek and Mandeep’s life easy as Delhi captain Yash Dhull turned to part-timer Ayush Badoni to fill in the overs.
Abhishek and Mandeep regularly found the fence during their 102-run partnership in 58 balls that pushed Delhi out of the game.
The game moved into Punjab’s territory when Mandeep hit Pradeep Sangwan for 21 runs in the 15th over, leaving the equation at just 27 in the last five overs despite Abhishek’s dismissal.
Earlier, Badoni’s 80 off 57 balls got Delhi to 183/7 after being put into bat first on a slow pitch.
His elegant strokes around the ground and four lofted drives over covers for six painted a contrasting picture to his Indian Premier League (IPL) self, where he uses his clever scoops and ramp shots. While those innovative strokes arrived in the final, Badoni churned out more runs from his orthodox game.
However, the rest of Delhi’s batters failed to provide Badoni support. Wickets fell at regular intervals, with Punjab seamer Siddarth Kaul picking up three.
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