Winning a match with a six or four is common in modern day cricket. However, it was not the same for Baroda who made it into the semifinal of the Vijay Hazare Trophy with the winning run coming off a wide delivery bowled by Prasidh Krishna. An all-round performance by Krunal Pandya helped his side beat star-studded Karnataka by seven wickets.
Speaking about the match Yusuf said, “It was an important game for us and we had luck running our way right from the toss. The wicket was slow and opting to bowl first was a right decision as we knew that having a target infront of us could help us shape our innings accordingly. We utilized the conditions pretty well, bowled in patches and spinners did a brilliant job. The ball was not turning but was coming slow to the bat. So it was not easy for the spinners yet we were able to limit them.”
“Later, openers Kedar Devdhar and Aditya Waghmode gave a perfect start followed by Krunal and Deepak making sure that we don’t fall from the winning position. And the way kedar played, it is never easy to field for 50 overs and then bat for so long. So he has to be credited for his 78 run knock.”
Facing an opposition yet to taste defeat in the competition, Baroda had to be on their toes and Pathan sr feels credit must go to Irfan Pathan and the bowling department for keeping Karnataka’s batsmen under check.
“Robin Uthappa and Mayank Agarwal gave them a substantial start. With 60-70 runs in first 10 overs, we could feel the heat. But the way Lukman Meriwala and Atit Seth bowled and provided us the breakthroughs it helped us come back in the game. Also, much credit goes to Irfan for keeping things tight and regulating the bowlers,” said the 34-year old batsman.
“In the end it feels good to beat a team like Karnataka, especially when their side has players like Robin, Manish Pandey, Vinay Kumar and Stuart Binny. The way Kedar (78), Krunal (70) and Deepak batted that was exceptional. Now everybody needs to give their best in the upcoming matches,” he added.
When asked about Krunal’s performance, the elder of Pathan brothers said “His (Krunal) performance for the team has helped us in our journey so far. He is one player who can uphold the innings if the openers fail or get you wickets. The way he has made his comeback post injury shows how much potential he has. And he is a brilliant fielder as well. He defines the defination of an ‘all-rounder'”
Meanhwhile, Yusuf also spoke about the issue with his participation in the Hong Kong tournament and said it is something that he really does not think about it anymore.
“I have no regrets of being denied to participate in the Hong Kong Blitz. It is a part of past now and we should stop thinking about it. Lets not think more of it as I am concentrating on future now. With so many tournaments coming up in India, one does not have to focus on foreign tournaments.”
With the Indian Premier League (IPL) three weeks away, Yusuf believes the ongoing tournament has helped him find his form back. “I missed couple of games in the starting, however I have managed to get some runs under my bat. I think match practice is the best way to improve ones fitness. I have been a part of Kolkata Knight Riders for a long time and I look forward to deliver for them,” he concluded.
Meawhile, Karnataka who were unbeaten in the group stage, finished at top place. After winning the toss and reducing Karnataka to 233 in 50 overs, Baroda rode on Krunal Pandya and Kedar Devdhar’s fifties to ensure that they enter the last four stage of the competition.
Kedar and Pandya were involved in a 92 run partnership while the later shared a 47-run stand for the third-wicket with Hooda. Later on it was Yusuf (10) along with Hooda (34) who batted together to take their side over the line.
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