Delightful fifties from Amitoze Singh and Mandeep Singh helped Punjab canter to a seven-wicket win over Odisha and enter the Vijay Hazare one-day tournament final.
Punjab will take on Karnataka, who won a six-run cliffhanger against Bengal in the other semi-final, in the title clash on Tuesday at the same venue.
Chasing 239 for a win at the Sardar Patel Stadium at Motera, the Harbhajan Singh-led side rode on a 167-run second-wicket partnership between Amitoze (91) and Mandeep (81) to achieve the target in 48.3 overs.
Amitoze, whose knock was laced with eight fours and a six, however missed out on his first List A century after being run out by Biplab Samantray.
Mandeep was also unlucky after being scalped by Deepak Rasananda Behera. His knock came off 93 balls, which included seven boundaries and a six.
Yuvraj Singh (26 not out) and Taruwar Kohli (35 not out) also provided useful contributions in their 64-run unbeaten partnership for the fourth wicket to speed up Punjab chase.
Earlier, after putting Odisha in to bat, the Punjab bowlers picked up regular wickets to restrict the Samnatray-led side to 238 for seven.
Medium-pacer Baltej Singh bagged two wickets, while Deepak Bansal, Siddharth Kaul, Harbhajan and Yuvraj picked up a wicket each.
Arabind Singh, who top-scored with 89 runs, was looking dangerous when Kohli ran him out to stop the Odisha surge. Opener Natraj Behera (61), Abhilash Mallick (36) and Anurag Sarangi (24) also chipped in with important runs.
Odisha: 238 for 7 in 50 overs (Arabind Singh 89, Natraj Behera 61; Baltej Singh 2/55)
Punjab: 244 for 3 in 48.3 overs (Amitoze Singh 91, Mandeep Singh 81; Suryakant Pradhan 1/22).
Karnataka pip Bengal
Abhimanyu Mithun’s brilliant bowling at death enabled defending champions Karnataka to edge out Bengal by six runs in a thrilling semi-final of the National One Day Championship for the Vijay Hazare Trophy.
Batting first, Karnataka scored a respectable 268 for nine in 50 overs after being down at 222 for nine. It was skipper Ranganath Vinay Kumar’s long handle that took the score past 265 with the India discard contributing 39 off 30 balls with six fours.
In reply, Bengal were cruising along at 256 for six needing 13 off the last two covers. To their horror, the lower-order failed to keep their cool as they lost the last four wickets for the addition of six runs with the likes of Sayan Sekhar Mondal (1), Ashoke Dinda (0) playing irresponsible shots to give it away. Bengal were all out for 262 in 49.5 covers as Mithun (3/40) gave away only two runs removing the last two batsmen as Bengal required nine from the final over.
Senior pro Manoj Tiwary (56) must also take the blame as he played 92 balls before being run out courtesy a direct throw from Abrar Qazi.
Young left hander Sudeep Chatterjee (67 from 68 balls) played a matured innings before he was foxed by a Stuart Binny slower delivery.
Skipper Laxmi Ratan Shukla played on an off cutter from Binny. Rookie Subhajit Banerjee (30) was finding gaps with ease before he failed to dig out a perfect yorker from Mithun.
Mithun got another yorker on spot when Saurashis Lahiri (24 from 13 balls) was cleaned up in the penultimate ball as a jubilant Vinay picked one off the stumps as souvenir.
If there were two villains for Bengal, they were undoubtedly Dinda (2/52), who leaked runs with ball and did nothing with the bat. And second was Mondal, whose presence in playing XI has always been under scanner.
Earlier, Karnataka batsmen got out after getting starts with Robin Uthappa (36), Karun Nair (32) and Binny (50) all being guilty of throwing their wickets.
It was Vinay’s innings that made the real difference in the end as Bengal paid for those 46 runs for the unbroken 10th wicket stand.
Brief Scores Karnataka 268/9 in 50 overs (Stuart Binny 50, R Vinay Kumar 39 no, Iresh Saxena 2/27)
Bengal 262 all out in 49.5 overs (Sudeep Chatterjee 67, Manoj Tiwary 56, Abhimanyu Mithun 3/40) . Karnataka won by 6 runs.