Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy: Dhawan steam-rolls Services

An imperious Shikhar Dhawan steamrolled a hapless Services bowling, smashing 82 runs from just 47 balls as Delhi sauntered past its 132-run target in just 13.3 overs in the final match of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy in the north zone league tie.

Sixty two of Shikhar Dhawan's 82 runs came in boundaries.

An imperious Shikhar Dhawan steamrolled a hapless Services bowling, smashing 82 runs from just 47 balls as Delhi sauntered past its 132-run target in just 13.3 overs in the final match of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy in the north zone league tie here on Thursday.

>Full scorecard: Delhi v Services

This was by far the most dominant performance by any team in the competition as Delhi, with the most star-studded line-up on paper, finally lived up its reputation. Dhawan dealt mainly in boundaries, taking the aerial route for both his fours and sixes, giving no chance to the fielders and making the non-striker a bit player in what was a one-man show. All he needed was a partner at the other end, and even that seemed secondary.

Delhi did lose wickets early and the other batsmen did find it tough to counter the cold, seaming, swinging conditions but Dhawan couldn't care less. Sixty two of his 82 runs came in boundaries and every bowler went for more than 10 runs an over. His three sixes – over square and midwicket – were sheer muscle. His hammering of spinner Rahul Kanojia in the 10th over sent the ball soaring over midwicket and out of the stands, lost. Even of the 11 fours he hit, half missed the rope by inches.

There were a few half-chances, sure, in his fireworks but Dhawan never was in any real danger of being dismissed, every shot of his planned and coming from the middle of the bat. Not surprisingly, he hit the winning runs with a thick edge that flew to backward square leg for four.

Earlier, the Delhi bowlers did their bit to restrict Services scoring and only an unbeaten 56 from Amit Pachhara helped the team reach a respectable total. With captain Gautam Gambhir sticking to fast bowlers – only four overs were by spinners, three of them by Manan Sharma — the Services batsmen were unable to handle the relentless pace.

Their problems were compounded by the seamers bowling close to the stumps and maintaining a length that forced them to play. Vikas Tokas – coming for Ishant Sharma who had to leave for personal reasons – mixed his line to keep the batsmen guessing and picked up three wickets while Navdeep Saini and Pradeep Sangwan kept the pressure up from the other end before Pachhara threw his bat around after being 86 for 6 in 15 overs.

In another match, Punjab beat Himachal by 23 runs to finish with three wins in five games. Put in to bat, Punjab managed 162 for seven before restricting Himachal to 139 for nine. Punjab lost a couple of early wickets but opener Manan Vohra scored a 50-ball 60 that included five sixes, all confident hits with a straight bat. Ravi Inder Singh (23) and Gurkeerat Mann (34) added quick runs towards the end.

>Full scorecard: Punjab v Himachal

In reply, Himachal raced past 50 in the first five overs before Punjab captain Harbhajan Singh broke the partnership, cleaning up Abhimanyu Rana for 21. Ankush Bains continued to hit big before Harbhajan bowled him too, in his second over. The rest of the Himachal batsmen neither stuck around long enough nor got any runs with the last five managed just six.

At Amtar, Jammu & Kashmir bowlers, defending 156, kept their nerves to register a narrow four-run victory against Haryana.

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