Vijay Hazare Trophy: Delhi, Himachal in last four

Delhi handed Jharkhand a comprehensive 99-run defeat at Bengaluru on Wednesday to sail into the semifinals of the Vijay Hazare Trophy. At the Alur grounds, Himachal Pradesh stunned Punjab to sail through.

Delhi's Subodh Bhati celebrates after dismissing Jharkhand's Vikash Singh.   -  K. MURALI KUMAR

M. S. Dhoni's unbeaten 70 went in vain.   -  PTI

A score of 225 may not have seemed easy to defend but Navdeep Saini and Ishant Sharma broke the back of the run chase with sharp, early blows. Medium-pacer Subodh Bhati then claimed four lower-order wickets as Jharkhand slumped to 126 all out in 38 overs.

The margin would have been greater if not for M. S. Dhoni’s lively, unbeaten 70 (108b, 5x4, 4x6). That innings was enough to draw wild cheers from the 600 supporters gathered at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium, but inadequate, sadly, in the context of the match.

Delhi will now meet Himachal Pradesh, who registered a five-wicket victory over Punjab in the other quarterfinal, at the same venue on Saturday for a spot in the final.

The first Jharkhand wicket fell only five deliveries into the second innings, when Ishank Jaggi played down the wrong line to Saini and was castled.

In the next over, Ishan Kishan, only a day ago appointed the India U-19 captain, was bowled neck and crop by Ishant Sharma. When Jharkhand sank to nine for four in 5.1 overs — Saini and Ishant striking in the space of two balls — the contest was as good as dead.

The damage continued apace, Bhati and Pawan Negi finding success, as Jharkhand collapsed to 97 for nine. As he began to run out of partners, Dhoni cut loose.

He clubbed a couple of sixes off the left-arm spin of Manan Sharma — one high into the old BEML stand, and the other one-handed over long off. The half-century came off 89 balls, with a flick to the fine-leg boundary, before two furious sixes were unleashed off Ishant.

The last-wicket-pair added 29 runs, a stand snapped when Vikash Singh was adjudged leg before off an inside edge. Dhoni’s score was the highest individual effort of the match, and his best in seven games this tournament.

Earlier, put in to bat, Delhi managed 225 only after a late assault from Pawan Negi, afterwards declared the Man of the Match. The left-hander hammered a 16-ball-38 (3x4, 3x6), as Delhi took 51 runs off the last five overs.

Rahul Shukla, who had hitherto bowled fairly well, leaked 36 runs from his final three overs.

The Delhi innings was memorable for Gautam Gambhir’s rather dozy run-out. The captain sliced the ball towards gully, where Kaushal Singh made a diving stop. The point fielder, Shahbaz Nadeem, gathered the ball and found the stumps at the non-striker’s end with a direct hit. Gambhir, ambling over without so much as glancing in the direction of the fielder, was caught short. It did not matter, however, in the final analysis.

Meanwhile, at the Alur grounds, an undefeated 109 (135b, 9x4) from Robin Bist helped Himachal Pradesh scale down a total of 263 and stun Punjab. Mandeep Singh’s 119 (145b, 9x4, 1x6) for Punjab went in vain.

>Himachal Pradesh beat Punjab by 5 wickets: Scorecard

>Delhi beat Jharkhand by 99 runs: Scorecard