Punjab blow away Assam in Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy

 Punjab blow away Assam in Syed Mushtaq Ali TrophyMumbai: Punjab came out all guns blazing as they swept their opponents Assam off their feet by recording a nine-wicket win with nine overs to spare in the pre-quarterfinal of T-20 match  for Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy at Brabourne Stadium, Mumbai.

Punjab skipper Harbhajan Singh won the toss and invited Assam to bat.  Punjab opened with former Test player VRV Singh and Siddharth Kaul. VRV Singh in fact was playing his first domestic match after having being out of competitive cricket for almost two years because of his back and ankle injury. He worked up a tidy pace and bowled an economical spell of four overs conceding 10 runs and capturing two wickets. Assam received an early jolt as their opener Pallav Dass who was smartly run out by Amitoz Singh before he could open his account.

Thereafter Dheeraj Jadhav and SA Rai started mending the innings. They were particularly severe on medium pacer Siddharth Kaul who was carted for 22 runs of the two overs bowled by him. Amitoze Singh gave the second breakthrough to his team when he had SA Rai snapped by Mandeep Singh for 27 off 27 balls inclusive of four boundaries. Part time bowler Mandeep Singh then took the center stage as he ripped through the Assam middle order by disposing off Pervez Azeez (15), RN Dass (0) and Pritam Dass (0). This opened the flood gates as Assam kept on losing wickets at regular intervals with their main stay opener Dheeraj Jadhav also falling to the guiles of VRV Singh who enticed an edge from the batsman to the wicket keeper after making a strokeful (48) off 51 balls containing four boundaries.

VRV Singh put the finishing touches to the innings by cleaning up Abu Nachim for (11). Assam’s innings ended at 116 for 9. Mandeep Singh 3 for 22 and VRV Singh 2 for 10 were the main wicket takers for Punjab.

Punjab started their chase with Ishan Malhotra and Sarul Kanwar. Ishan after facing four balls and hitting two boundaries edged to the wicket keeper off Abu Nachim for eight. This was the lone success that came Assam’s way. Sarul Kanwar and Gurkirat Singh blasted the Assam attack to smithereens as they notched up a 108-run unbeaten stand for the second wicket in just 10 overs. Both the players matched each other stroke by stroke and sent all the Assam bowlers on a leather hunt.

Sarul Kanwar smashed an unbeaten (47) of just 24 balls laced with eight fiercely hit boundaries and one towering six with a strike rate of 195.83 while Gurkirat Singh smashed 62 off 38 deliveries studded with 10 boundaries and two huge sixes with strike rate of 163.16. Punjab scored 118 for 1 off 11 overs to romp home with nine wickets. Abu Nachim 1 for 26 was the lone wicket taker for Assam. Punjab will now take on Madhya Pradesh in the quarter finals to be played on March 25 at  Brabourne Stadium.