Akshdeep Nath’s tight seam-up stuff along with a useful half-century helped Uttar Pradesh defeat Gujarat by five wickets to reach the Vijay Hazare Trophy final after 16 long years. They will meet Mumbai in the final at the Feroz Shah Kotla on Sunday. Opting to bat at the Ferozshah Kotla, Gujarat top-order put up an ordinary show and found the going tough against some relentless UP bowling attack to be bundled out for a paltry 184 in 48.1 overs with Nath taking 1 for 29 in 6 overs apart from pacers Yash Fayal and Aaqib Khan finishing with three and two scalps respectively.
In reply, UP survived some early hiccups before Nath wrested control with a calculated 104-ball 71 (8×4), while the in-form Upendra Yadav sealed the issue with an unbeaten 31 from 25 balls.
Fresh from his match-winning 112 against Delhi in the quarterfinal, Yadav came to the crease after UP lost their set duo of skipper Karan Sharma (38) and Akshdeep in quick succession.
Yadav held his nerves and ensured that there’s no more jitters as he smashed one six and three boundaries to script the win with 44 balls to spare. UP had last made the final in 2004-05 season when they shared the trophy with Tamil Nadu after a tied finish.
Hailing their disciplined bowling effort, UP skipper Sharma said they executed their plans well to ensure the easy win. “Initially, the ball was skidding the idea was to bowl wicket to wicket and not give away any loose deliveries. We just stuck to our plan and it resulted in the success,” Sharma said.
Gujarat skipper Priyank Panchal blamed it on the sloppy batting and said they threw way their initial few wickets. “Batting was poor initially and we gave way two-three quick wickets. We could have taken the score to 240-mark which would have made it difficult for them,” he said.
Asked whether they decision to bat first was a mistake, he said: “We were positive and confident about our batting but those initial few wickets cost us dear.”
UP new ball duo Dayal (3/71) and Aaqib (2/22) shared five wickets among them and it was their discipline and control that did not allow Gujarat to break free. The only respite came from Het Patel who topscored for Gujarat with a 87-ball 60 (5×4) in a 66-run partnership with veteran Piyush Chawla (42-ball 32; 2×4, 1×6).
Brief Scores: Gujarat 184; 48.1 overs (Het Patel 60, Piyush Chawla 32; Yash Dayal 3/34, Aaqib Khan 2/22) lost to Uttar Pradesh 188/5; 42.5 overs (Akshdeep Nath 71, Karan Sharma 38, Upendra Yadav 31 not out) by five wickets.
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