SMAT 2021: MP, Gujarat improve NRR; Kerala needs a big win to qualify

On Tuesday, table-topper MP (12 points) plays Kerala (8) while second-placed Gujarat (12) takes on a far less formidable Bihar (4).

File image of Madhya Pradesh all-rounder Venkatesh Iyer. Iyer starred with both bat and ball in MP's win over Bihar.   -  The Hindu

After posting resounding victories in the penultimate set of matches, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Kerala were left in the hunt for the two knockout spots available from Group ‘D’ in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 cricket tournament here on Monday.

On Tuesday, table-topper MP (12 points) plays Kerala (8) while second-placed Gujarat (12) takes on a far less formidable Bihar (4). Assam and Railways are out of reckoning for a place in the knockout.

It’s must-win match for Kerala as it has to triumph by a big margin for a better net run-rate (NRR) than MP. Gujarat is widely expected to beat Bihar and qualify. As per NRR, MP (1.507) leads Gujarat (1.310) and Kerala (0.222).

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After the league, the group topper will move into the quarterfinals while the second-placed team will find a place in the pre-quarterfinals.

On Monday, MP displaced Gujarat at the top on superior run-rate after finishing a short run-chase in the powerplay against Bihar.

Electing to bat at the Air Force ground, Bihar managed only 59 after losing the last five wickets for six runs. When MP batted, Venkatesh Iyer followed his two wickets with an unbeaten 20-ball 36 (7x4) in 5.4 overs in MP’s nine-wicket win. A run-rate of 10.59 surely helped MP's NRR.

Gujarat also kept an eye on the NRR in beating Railways by eight wickets at the Ferozeshah Kotla ground.

Urvil Patel (59, 29b, 8x4, 3x6) and skipper Priyank Panchal (43 not out, 33b, 5x4, 1x6) hastened the end as Gujarat chased down a target of 133 with eight overs to spare.

In contrast, Kerala did not help its NRR much in posting an eight-wicket win over Assam.

After restricting Assam to 121/8, Kerala won in 18 overs. Rohan Kunnummal (56 not out, 53b, 4x4, 1x6) top scored.

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