December 15, 2021 8:29:55 am
In January, Puducherry had dismissed Mumbai for just 94 on way to a six-wicket win at Wankhede Stadium in the T20 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. On Tuesday, they beat the defending champions in the 50-over Vijay Hazare Trophy, this time by 18 runs in a low-scoring game in Thiruvananthapuram.
Paras Dogra, the former Himachal Pradesh veteran, held the batting line-up together with his 58 to drag Puducherry to 157 . Off-spinner Fabid Ahmed then took 4/16 in ten overs as Mumbai slumped to 90/8 despite the presence of Suryakumar Yadav and Yashasvi Jaiswal.
Opener Aakarshit Gomel (70) revived the chase in a 49-run ninth-wicket stand with Dhawal Kulkarni. But with 19 runs still needed, two players originally from Mumbai – Sagar Udeshi and Sagar Trivedi – dismissed the pair to seal a memorable win for Puducherry.
It wasn’t the first big scalp of the tournament for Puducherry, although it ended a miserable title defence for Mumbai, with only one win out of five games. Puducherry had also defeated eventual Group B toppers Tamil Nadu and Bengal.
“I’d say the Tamil Nadu win was bigger than the Mumbai one. We had lost to Tamil Nadu last month in Mushtaq Ali, but we had beaten Mumbai in T20 the previous season,” said Dishant Yagnik, the Puducherry coach and former Rajasthan wicketkeeper-batter.
Yagnik said that his side had been unfazed heading into what many had told him was the ‘group of death’.
“What we did in this tournament is that we did not go by how big a name the opposition had. We kept focussing on our own abilities and games instead.
“So many people called me up before the tournament to say that we were going into the group of death, that we would find it very tough to survive against teams such as Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Mumbai, Bengal and Baroda.”
The Rajasthan Royals fielding coach felt that such assessments were unfair to his team, which had then resolved to make life difficult for the established sides. “We had decided that we were going to give a tough time to some of these domestic giants. Even our players wanted to show that they belong at this level. We are not like some of the north-east teams.
“And when we lose, the atmosphere in the dressing room gets unpleasant and that is a good sign for a team, that losing is hurting the players.”
Puducherry ended on 12 points — the same as Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Bengal – but missed out on qualifying for the knockouts on the basis of net run-rate. Tamil Nadu went through to the quarters, while Karnataka entered the pre-quarterfinals.