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T20: Mumbai beat Punjab; Gujarat win thriller vs Rajasthan

(Surjit Dhal Indore/Surat, Feb 24): Led by pacer Dhawal Kulkarni, Mumbai defended a modest 156-run target as they defeated Punjab by 35 runs in their Group C Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy match here Friday, registering their second successive win in the premier domestic T20 tournament.

In a thrilling match in Surat, Gujarat defeated Rajasthan “by one over eliminator” after the two teams ended with identical scores in 20 overs and the match was tied.

Opting to bat first, Rajasthan posted 143/7 in their alloted 20 overs at the Lalbhai Contractor Stadium in Surat.

 In reply, Gujarat’s innings also ended on 143/7 after which the match went into one-over eliminator, which also saw scores being tied.

 Since scores of the eliminator were also tied, Gujarat were eventually declared winners on the basis of higher number of boundaries hit by them in the main match. They collected four points.

                In another Group C game in Indore, Test specialist Cheteshwar Pujara, who had hit an unbeaten 100 in 61 balls against Railways Thursday, continued his good form as he scored 68 to help Saurashtra defeat Madhya Pradesh by 6 wickets.

                This was Saurashtra’s first win in the tournament.  On Thursday, Mumbai had kicked-off their campaign on a winning note, thrashing minnows Sikkim by a staggering 154 runs.

                Asked to bat first, Punjab bowlers led by medium pacer Baltej Singh (3-30) and left-arm seamer Barinder Singh Sran (3-34) dished out a clinical performance as they bundled out a formidable Mumbai for a modest 155 in their 20 overs Friday.

                Surya Kumar Yadav was Mumbai’s top-scorer as he hit a quick-fire 80 in just 49 balls.

                Earlier, skipper Ajinkya Rahane (0) and young prodigy Prithvi Shaw (8) had another failure with the bat as Mumbai slumped to 8-2 early on.

                But in-form Shreyas Iyer (46), who had made a record- breaking 147 against Sikkim, and Yadav stitched a crucial 126- run stand for the third wicket.

                While Iyer hammered four fours and three shots over the fence, Yadav struck nine boundaries and four sixes in his stroke-filled innings at the Emerald Heights International School Ground in Indore.

                After Iyer’s dismissal, `crisis man’ Siddhesh Lad went for a duck and then Mumbai lost wickets in a heap and eventually folded up for 155.

                Unheralded 18-year-old Punjab opener Prabhsimran Singh, who has been picked by IPL franchise Mumbai Indians, gave Mumbai a scare with a blazing 54 in just 20 balls, an innings studded with six boundaries and four sixes.

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