Vijay Hazare Trophy: Rishi Dhawan sparkles again as HP squashes Services in semifinal 

On the back of Rishi Dhawan’s all-round show, Himachal Pradesh makes it to its maiden final in the Vijay Hazare Trophy. 

Himachal Pradesh's Rishi Dhawan has been excellent with both bat and ball this season.   -  FILE PHOTO/N. SUDARSHAN

Rishi Dhawan continued to sizzle with bat and ball in the Vijay Hazare Trophy as his all-round show at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium on Friday helped Himachal Pradesh secure a berth in the final.

Prashant Chopra (78, 109b, 4x4, 3x6) played the anchor knock while Dhawan (84, 7b, 9x4, 1x6) provided the much-needed acceleration in the business end to bury Services under a mountain of runs. A disciplined effort with the ball – led by Dhawan’s 4 for 27 – was enough for a 77-run win. 

HP will play Tamil Nadu in the final on Sunday. 

During their chase of 282, Services’ top-order batters Ravi Chauhan and Rajat Paliwal eschewed strokeplay for the best part of three hours to keep wickets in hand for the end, but the strategy did not work. The required run-rate kept climbing and once strokes begun to be attempted, wickets fell and the Services’ resistance ended with 3.5 overs left.

READ: As it happened

Paliwal (55, 66b, 3x4) and Chauhan (45, 70b, 4x4) stuck around for 12.2 overs after a quiet start but their partnership contained just one boundary. They were repeatedly pushing deliveries to mid-on or mid-off or playing with soft hands close to the wicket to pick up singles. Chauhan fell trying to break the shackles while the runs came in a trickle. Devender Lohchab played an enterprising knock to keep the hopes alive but he didn’t last long, run out at the non-strikers’ end. 

Eventually, with the required run-rate having crossed nine, Paliwal couldn’t hold himself any longer. He tried to hit out and was caught at mid-on in the 37th over. With the premier batter out, the rest of the innings stagnated slowly. 

Just as they had done in the quarterfinals, Services seamers kept pegging away in the first 10 overs with the new ball in the morning. Despite beating the bat a few times and drawing out edges and mishits, only one wicket – that of Shubham Arora, dismissed lbw just after smashing a boundary through extra cover – fell in the first hour.  

Opener Chopra, however, wasn’t unresponsive during this period, lofting a good-length delivery from left-arm seamer Raj Bahadur Pal for a six through long-off.  

Digvijay Rangi (37, 59b, 4x4, 1x6) started to play a few strokes, too, by the 13th over, an expensive one from seamer Abhishek Tiwari. But despite seeing off the new ball safely, the top order had to stumble a bit during the middle overs, Rangi dismissed bowled by left-arm spinner Rahul Singh, Nikhil Gangta run out after an entertaining cameo, and Amit Kumar dismissed lbw for a duck by Pathania after the fast bowler was brought back into the attack in the 26th over. 

It was only from the 30th over onwards that Chopra, who was content with singles thus far, started to play a few strokes in the company of Dhawan. He brought up his fifty with a six down the ground off Rahul, skipping down the track and teeing off. The ball was hit so well that it hit the sightscreen on the full. Chopra played the pulls and cuts, too, for boundaries, and stepped down again to collect a six through deep midwicket off Pulkit Narang, the off-spinner.  

He departed in the 41st over trying to accelerate and it was Dhawan who changed the complexion of the game completely. Dhawan and Akash Vasisht tore the Services attack to shreds in the business end as they indulged in some lusty hitting. Dhawan came down the track to seamers numerous times for his strokes. After missing out with the bat in the quarterfinals, he hit a half-century once again - his fifth in seven matches. 

Brief scores 

Himachal Pradesh 281 for 6 (Dhawan 84, Chopra 78, Vashisht 45 n.o.) in 50 overs beat Services 204 (Paliwal 55, Chauhan 45, Dhawan 4 for 27) in 46.1 overs

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