Mumbai: Mumbai and Delhi entered the semi-finals of the Syed Mushtaq Ali All India T20 tournament with contrasting victories over Tamil Nadu and Railways respectively at the Brabourne Stadium on Saturday. Delhi survived anxious moments till the end to pip Railways by one run, riding on skipper Rajat Bhatia`s whirlwind unbeaten century. Mumbai outclassed Tamil Nadu by 31 runs.
Delhi will now take on the winners of the third quarter-final between Bengal and Baroda, while the hosts will cross swords with the victors of the last quarter-final between Madhya Pradesh and Punjab. The final two quarter-finals are slated for Sunday at the Mumbai Cricket Association`s BKC Ground while the two semi-finals are to be played on March 26, at the same venue. The final is to be held at the Brabourne Stadium on March 27.
The match between Mumbai and TN was a sort of revenge fixture after the latter`s victory in the semi final in the Ranji Trophy earlier in the season, but this time around the result was reversed. Mumbai went on an aggressive mode from the first ball they received to rattle up an imposing 193 for 9, built mainly around a blazing 79 in 41 balls by left hander Abhishek Nayar, who struck four sixes and 8 fours, and Wasim Jaffer`s equally impressive 51 in 31 balls with a six and 7 fours.
The two batsmen tore the TN attack, which surprisingly began with spin at both ends, to pieces and gave the Mumbai innings a flying start, after the fall of opener Ajinkya Rahane in the second over.
TN began impressively in the run-chase with openers Anirudha Srikkanth (32 in 25 balls) and Abhinav Mukund (34 in 15 balls) putting on 62 in 6 overs, but once the partnership was broken when the latter was run out, the hosts came on top to bowl out their rivals for 162 in the 19th over.
Dhawal Kulkarni bagged 3 for 32 to emerge Mumbai`s most successful bowler, including two wickets in the end in one over, while left arm spinners Iqbal Abdulla and Ankit Chavan also did well to apply the brakes and finished with 2 wickets each. Javed Khan too picked up a brace.
Tamil Nadu`s S Suresh Kumar made 49 in the lower order in 26 balls with 2 sixes and 5 fours but regular fall of wickets at the other end spoilt TN`s chances.
In the earlier match, Delhi were struggling after losing a wicket in each of the first three overs to be 14 for 3 and then 43 for 4 in the 7th over before Bhatia turned things around with his lusty hitting as Delhi ended up with a challenging score of 180 for 6.
The Delhi skipper, who bagged two wickets too to emerge as his side`s star performer, made an unbeaten 107 off just 50 balls. The knock included eight sixes, all off the meat of the bat, and five fours. He was given good support by Puneet Mishra (29 in 28 balls) as the duo added 73 runs for the fifth wicket in 57 ball to prop up the innings. Bhatia continued his attack with help from the latter order batsmen as the last five overs yielded 75 runs. However, Railways gave them a fright towards the end after slumping to 122 for 7 in the 16th over.
Leg spinner Karan Sharma took the fight from there on to the enemy camp with a quick fire 67 off 35 balls with 3 sixes and 7 fours before he was eighth out at 178 in off the penultimate ball.
Sharma put on 56 runs in 27 balls with Avinash Yadav (16 off 13 balls) to bring Railways on the doorsteps of an upset victory before Delhi dismissed both the batsmen in successive balls to squeak through by one run. Railways needed 45 runs in the last 3 overs before making a great effort only to fall short narrowly. Scores: Mumbai 193 for 9 (W Jaffer 51, A Nayar 79; L Balaji 3 for 33, S Suresh Kumar 2 for 34) beat Tamuil Nadu 162 all out in 18.5 overs (S Anirudha 32, A Mukund 34, S Suresh Kumar 49; D Kulkarni 3 for 32, I Abdulla 2 for 24, Javed Khan 2 for 39, a Chavan 23 for 35).
Delhi 180 for 6 (R Bhatia 107 not out, P Sharma 29; A P Kathuria 2 for 41) beat Railways 179 for 9 (S Khanolkar 21, F Y Fazil 22, Karan Sharma 67; S Sehrawat 2 for 42, R Bhatia 2 for 28).