Delhi bowlers ensured Rishabh Pant's power-packed half-century did not go in vain, trumping Uttar Pradesh (UP) by three runs in a thrilling Group B super league engagement to reach the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament final on Thursday.
Inserted in at the Jadavpur University ground here, Delhi rode on Pant's 34-ball 58, studded with five fours and three sixes, to score 140 for nine and restricted Uttar Pradesh to 137 for its third win.
Delhi will meet Rajasthan in the final at the Eden Gardens on Friday. Rajasthan made it to the title clash despite losing to Punjab by five runs in its last Group A encounter.
Pant shines with the bat
Pant and Dhruv Shorey (12) steadied Delhi's ship with a 38-run stand after Gautam Gambhir was dismissed in the first over. Pant, who hammered 17 off Amit Mishra's second over, scored freely even as wickets kept falling at the other end.
Pant drove and pulled with confidence to get his second fifty of the tournament. The wicketkeeper-batsman, who was done in by Rinku Singh's direct throw from midwicket, was the fifth wicket to fall.
Despite UP's economical bowling - it conceded only 31 in the last five overs - and excellent fielding, Delhi reached 140 thanks largely to Milind Kumar's useful 28-ball 32 and Pradeep Sangwan's 11-ball 14.
UP stutters after quick start
UP, which had raced to 43 for one after six overs, struggled when the opposition bowlers nipped out three wickets in three consecutive overs.
Suresh Raina (16) fell to pacer Subodh Bhati in the seventh over, while Umang Sharma was snared by off-spinner Lalit Yadav. Akshdeep Nath was brilliantly caught by Pant off Bhati.
Left-hander Rinku Singh (34 off 26, 4x4, 1x6) and Sarfaraz Khan (13) put up a 41-run partnership before Pawan Negi struck twice in the 16th over to leave UP reeling at 100 for six after 15 overs. Sarfaraz was caught at long on, while Rinku was out sweeping to leg-slip.
UP lost two more wickets in the next over, but southpaw Saurabh Kumar's valiant stroke play kept it in contention. With 13 needed off the last over, Saurabh pulled (33 off 18, 2x4, x6) Bhati for a six but was run out while completing his second run, thus allowing Delhi defend its aggregate.
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