Irfan stars as Baroda beat Punjab in Mushtaq Ali final
Mumbai, March 27 (IANS) All-rounder Irfan Pathan played a cameo with the bat and then starred with the ball to help Baroda beat Punjab by eight runs in the final of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Twenty20 Trophy at the Brabourne Stadium here Tuesday.
Punjab chasing a target of 149 for six fell eight runs short in a nerve-wracking final to give Baroda it's first domestic title since their 2001 Ranji Trophy triumph.
Irfan, who made a comeback to the Indian set-up only recently, looked in top form as he smashed five boundaries and a six in his unbeaten 36 off just 23 balls. With the ball too, the younger of the Pathan brothers, struck twice and effected Harbhajan Singh's run-out to complete a wonderful all round performance
Baroda electing to bat lost opener Aditya Waghmode in the very first over. Monil Patel (17) and Kedar Devdhar (12) too did not last long as the Punjab bowlers put immense pressure on the Baroda batsman.
Yusuf Pathan (27), who played his first match for India in the Asia Cup after spending almost a year on the sidelines, struck two sixes as he looked to resurrect Baroda's inning. However, spinner Bipul Sharma sent the elder Pathan packing as the Baroda looked to be in deep trouble with half of the side back in the hut with 91 on the board.
Irfan and captain Pinal Shah (39) strung together a 48-run partnership off 34 balls to bring Baroda back on track and propel them to a competitive score of 149.
Punjab started their reply shakily losing openers Sarul Kanwar (4) and Chandan Madan (4) in the first two overs. Though they recovered well courtesy some brilliant batting by Mandeep Singh (40) and Bipul (40).
With the match quickly running out of their control Baroda bowlers did well to claw their way back into the match. Yusuf struck first to remove the dangerous Mandeep while
Murtuja Vahora, who was expensive on the day, turned the tie around sending Bipul packing.
Skipper Harbhajan Singh struck lusty blows towards the end to bring the target down but was dismissed by some smart fielding by Irfan off his own bowling.
Requiring 11 runs off the last over Vohra held his nerves to concede just two to ensure victory for Baroda.
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