Punjab trounce Assam to enter last eight in T20 tourney

Mumbai: Punjab demolished a hapless Assam by nine wickets with nine overs to spare to storm into the quarterfinals of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Twenty20 All India knockout tournament at the Brabourne Stadium on Friday.

Punjab sent Assam in to bat and shackled them to a measly 116 for nine before riding on an unbroken and aggressive century stand for the second wicket between Sarul Kanwar (47 not out) and Gurkeerat Singh (62 not out) to reach the target in only 11 overs.

Punjab will meet Madhya Pradesh in the quarterfinals at the Mumbai Cricket Association`s BKC ground on March 25.

There was no stopping the northerners led by Harbhajan Singh as they overwhelmed their weak opponents.

There was little of note in Assam`s innings barring a painstaking 48 off 52 balls studded with four boundaries by Dheeraj Jadhav and a knock of 27 in as many balls by Sibsankar Roy. The main wicket taker for Punjab was Mandeep Singh who grabbed three wickets in five balls in an over, including two off successive deliveries to send back Parvez Aziz (15) and Rajdeep Das (0). Former India pacer V R V Singh grabbed two wickets, including that of Jadhav who chased a wide ball and feathered a catch behind the stumps. Harbhajan and Amitoz Singh grabbed a wicket each.

Punjab lost an early wicket in the run-chase but Kanwar, who faced 24 balls and hit eight fours and a six, and Gurkeerat (38 balls, 2 sixes and 10 fours) tore apart Assam`s weak bowling and raced to the target with an unfinished stand of 109 in 61 balls.

The lone wicket taker for Assam was medium pacer Abu Nechim.

Brief scores:

Assam: 116 for 9 in 20 overs (Dheeraj Jadhav 48, Sibsankar Roy 27; Mandeep Singh 3/22, V R V Singh 2/10).

Punjab: 118 for one in 11 overs (Sarul Kanwar not out 47, Gurkeerat Singh not out 62).