Recent Match Report – Punjab vs Baroda Final 2023/24

Mandeep Singh broke the shackles in the sixth over by hitting Sheth for back-to-back boundaries as they soon slipped into run-accumulation mode. Anmolpreet, who until then seemed a tad cautious and off-colour, suddenly picked up pace by playing some outrageous shots. Between overs six and nine, Punjab played just two dots and had finally begun to regather momentum.

Anmolpreet impressed with his bottom-handed power, backing away to shovel yorker-length deliveries to the cover boundary, while equally showing he was adept at the deft touches, like he did off Krunal’s left-arm spin. Mandeep and Anmolpreet had added 62 off just 40 when Krunal struck against the run of play. Mandeep’s attempt at playing a cute reverse sweep led to him picking out short third.

Wadhera shines, Anmolpreet hits first Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy finals ton

Mandeep’s dismissal, though, hardly affected Anmolpreet. A reason for that was Wadhera, the No. 5 batter, hardly took time in settling himself in. He got going almost immediately to ensure Anmolpreet didn’t need to slow down. He raised a half-century off 36 balls and then saw Wadhera, who broke through earlier this year during his maiden IPL season with Mumbai Indians, pinch 29 off 11 in a half-century partnership.

Anmolpreet launched Lukman Meriwala, the left-arm seamer, for three sixes in a row in the 17th to make a charge towards the hundred. He eventually got to the landmark in the 19th, making it the first-ever hundred by a batter in a SMAT final, and then ended that over with back-to-back sixes off Soparia. All told, Punjab walloped nine sixes and three fours off their last 21 balls to put up a monstrous score.

Rathva fuels Baroda’s charge

Kaul delivered an early breakthrough but Punjab were beginning to be ravaged by a greasy ball as dew quickly took effect. Ninad Rathva began cautiously but switched gears to end the powerplay strongly as he took apart Baltej Singh, who came on as an Impact Player in place of Wadhera, for 16 off his first over. Rathva charged to 47 off 20 before falling to one big shot too many as he ran down the pitch and was stumped off Mayank Markande’s slider.

Krunal’s slice of luck, Rajput’s enterprise

At the halfway mark, Baroda were 89 for 2, but needed a massive second half. A wicket there could’ve been crucial for Punjab. An opportunity came in the 11th when Baltej forced Krunal into playing a pull from way outside off. It was hit straight down Harpreet Brar’s throat but the catch went down.

In the semifinal, Abhimanyusingh Rajput’s slower variations and medium pace delivered four massive strikes against Assam. Here in the final, Rajput carried on the batting charge following Rathva’s dismissal. He launched Markande for three sixes in the 14th, the last of those bringing up a 36-ball half-century. In the same over, Mandeep put down Krunal to give him a second reprieve as Punjab suddenly showed nerves. An innings that had struggled to get out of second gear until that point – Rajput was on 28 off 29 at one stage – suddenly went into overdrive.

Yet for all that, the asking rate only kept climbing. Going into the last four, Baroda needed 65. When Kaul went for 24 in the 18th, nerves turned into full-blown panic. Krunal was hitting them clean and long, and Baroda sensed a heist. And then Arshdeep rocked up and delivered a clutch over to seal the deal.

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