When Uttar Pradesh skipper Mohammad Kaif departed unceremoniously for a duck after braving inhibitions and batting first,one thought they would have to pay a heavy price. Their scorecard read 10 for 3 in three overs,and the Himachal camp,their bowling spearheaded by an incisive Ashok Thakur (2 for 48),thought they were on way to beating the much fancied opponents in the quarter-finals of the Vijay Hazare Trophy.
Little did Himachal realise that Kaif would hit back with the ball with a key breakthrough with his gentle,yet well-directed spin,a dismissal that set up leggie Piyush Chawlas match-winning 4 for 41. Just when it appeared that the Himachal duo of Bhavin Thakkar (60) and Ajay Mannu (33) would run away with the match HP were 149 for 5 at one stage in 33 overs chasing a modest score of 210 skipper Kaif broke the partnership by dismissing Mannu. The result: Himachal succumbed by 34 runs to be knocked out. In another match at the PTI ground,Baroda thrashed Hyderabad by seven wickets.
Brief scores: Uttar Pradesh 210/8 in 50 overs (Piyush Chawla 56,Ravikant Shukla 55,Shivakant Shukla 40; Ashok Thakur 2/48) v Himachal 176 in 42.3 overs (Bhavin Thakkar 60; Piyush Chawla 4/41,Bhuvaneshwar Kumar 2/19); Hyderabad 167 in 49.3 overs (Ravi Teja 77,Ikram Zampawala 4/29,Swapnil Singh 3/25) v Baroda 173/3 in 30.2 overs (Sailesh Solanki 59,Rakesh Solanki 56,Azhar Bilakhia 50).