Bilaspur: Punjab on Friday sealed a berth in the knockout stage of Vijay Hazare Trophy after scoring a comfortable three-wicket victory over hosts Himachal Pradesh in their final North Zone group match, here.
Opener Amitoze Singh (50) scored a half-century while Gurkeerat Singh missed out his fifty by just one run as Punjab overhauled the 197-run target with 12 overs to spare at Luhnu Cricket Ground to finish on top of the points table.
Punjab bowlers did a splendid job to bowl out Himachal for a meager 196 and the hosts paid the price for poor batting as they missed out on qualifying for the next stage.
Punjab (+0.557), Delhi (+0.428) and Himachal (+0.263) all ended the group stage with 12 points each but the first two teams qualified due to their better Net Run-rate. Punjab medium pacer Blatej Singh rocked the Himachal top-order by dismissing opener Raghav Dhawan (15) and Ankit Kalsi (2).
Paras Dogra played a fighting 53-run knock off 84 balls while Nikhil Gangta (27) and Rishi Dhawan (42) also played a part in reviving the Himachal innings.
Sandeep Sharma (3/39) took three wickets for Punjab. Punjab made a steady start as Amitoze batting sensibly at the top even as they lost a few quick wickets. Gurkeerat also kept his cool, pushing the side nearer to the win.