Mushtaq Ali Trophy: Pathan powers Baroda to title win

Mumbai: After a spirited performance on their way to the finals, Punjab lost the plot to Baroda when they were edged out by eight runs in a fiercely fought final of Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy for T20 at Brabourne Stadium on Tuesday morning. Irfan Pathan came out with a match winning performance for Baroda as he scored an unbeaten 36 and later took 2 wickets for 24 runs.

Baroda winning the toss opted to bat first but were soon on the back-foot when VRV Singh induced an edge from A.A. Waghmode to Harbhajan Singh in the slips before the batsman had opened his account.  Baroda kept on losing wickets at regular intervals. They lost M.K. Patel (17) K.H. Devdhar (12) and Ambati Rayudu (0) reducing them to 40 for 4.

At this stage Yusuf Pathan and Pinal Shah got together to retrieve the position. Yusuf Pathan was the first to go when he holdout to Amitoze Singh of left arm spinner Bipul Sharma for 27 off 29 balls inclusive of two huge sixes. Thereafter Pinal Shah was joined by Irfan Pathan and the duo took the total to 139 when Pinal Shah was caught by Bipul Sharma of Manpreet Gony for 39 off 28 balls studded with two boundaries and two sixes.

Irfan Pathan who was batting with lot of confidence then carted Manpreet Singh Gony’s fifth ball of the last over for a boundary to follow it up with a towering six of the last delivery of the innings to take the team’s total to 149 for 6 in 20 overs. In fact these two telling blows finally proved to be the difference between victory and defeat. For Punjab Manpreet Gony 2 for 21 and Bipul Sharma 2 for 15 were the most successful bowlers.

Replying Punjab started on a dismal note losing their openers Sarul Kanwar (04) and Chandan Madan (04) in quick succession. Sarul Kanwar was caught by B.A.Bhatt off Munaf Patel while Chandan Madan snicked one to the wicket keeper Pinal Shah off Irfan Pathan. Gurkirat Singh and Mandeep Singh then tried to steady the innings before Gurkirat Singh was castled by S.K. Singh for (12). Bipul Sharma then joined Mandeep Singh and the duo started rebuilding the innings by rotating the strike and maintaining the run rate.

Mandeep Singh’s quick fire  40 off 31 balls inclusive of six boundaries and one six ended when he lofted Yusuf Pathan into the safe hands of Munaf Patel. Amitoze Singh then joined Bipul Sharma and slowly and steadily the pair kept on inching towards the target. Munaf Patel broke the partnership when he had Amitoze Singh snapped by wicket keeper Pinal Shah for 21 of 11 deliveries inclusive of two boundaries and one six.

Skipper Harbhajan Singh walked in to join Bipul Sharma and at this stage Punjab looked in full control of the game, before tragedy struck when Harbhajan Singh was run out by Irfan Pathan for 15 on the first ball of the 19th over. Punjab at that stage had needed 15 runs off 12 balls.  Pathan struck another blow in the 19th over when he had Taruwar Kohli caught at deep mid wicket by Murtaza Vohra off a short arm pull.

In the last over bowled by Murtaza Vohra Punjab needed 10 runs but Bipul Sharma in trying to scoop the ball ended in the hands of Munaf Patel at short fine leg for 41 off 38 balls inclusive of 3 boundaries. Manpreet Gony and Rahul Sharma could just collect two runs of the last five balls to lose out the plot by 8 runs.

In the end it was the difference of those two lusty blows by Irfan Pathan in the last over which fetched 10 runs while Punjab could etch out only two runs and the difference of 8 runs finally was the difference between victory and defeat. This was Punjab’s 2nd abortive attempt at the T-20 title, having lost the plot earlier in the inaugural edition at the same venue.

Brief Score: Baroda 149 for 6 in 20 overs (Yusuf Pathan 27 Pinal Shah  39, Irfan Pathan  36 not out, Manpreet Gony 2 for 21 and Bipul Sharma  2 for 15)

Punjab: 141 for 8 in 20 overs (Mandeep Singh  40, Bipul Sharma 41, Amitoze  21, Harbhajan Singh 15, Irfan Pathan 2 for 24, Munaf Patel  2 for 21.)