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Recent Match Report – Himachal vs Mumbai Final 2022/23

Mumbai Beat 146 for 7 (Sarfaraz 36*, Iyer 34, Jaiswal 27, Arora 3-27, Dagar 2-24) Himachal Pradesh 143 for 8 (Sen 37, Vasisht 25, Kotian 3-15, Avasthi 3-21) by three wickets

In a match that was fitting clearance for a final, Mumbai dug deep to score a sensational final win and cause heartbreak at Himachal Pradesh in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy final in Kolkata. The win was all the more special because it was their first T20 crown.

On a spirited evening, with the Eden Gardens surface doing just enough to keep the sailors interested, Himachal stuttered with the bat to finish 143 for 8, but stayed in the game thanks to excellent bowling and fielding for large parts.

Then, with 28 needed out of 17, Kanwar Abhinay had a moment to forget when he dropped a swirler on short fine leg to delay Sarfaraz Khan. It would be costly, as Sarfaraz dealt Himachal two blows to change the complexion of the match.

With Mumbai taking 16 out of 8, Sarfaraz flattened mid-paced pacer Abhinay for a long-range six and followed that with a neat little deflection past the keeper for four to narrow the comparison down to six runs needed from the last left.

Tanush Kotian, who had taken three wickets earlier in the evening with his frugal offspin to set up the game, then hit the winning runs as he pulled Rishi Dhawan into the stands with a good leg to cause wild celebrations in the Mumbai camp .

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Avasthi and Kotian give Himachal the shivers

Compliments should not only be reserved for Sarfaraz and Kotian. Primarily a swing bowler, Mohit Avasthi kicked off the game with early strikes from Ankush Bains and Sumeet Verma, whose 25-ball 51 in the semi-final against Punjab was one of the reasons for Himachal’s entry into their first Syed Mushtaq Ali -final.

At 20 for 2, Himachal had two options: rebuild or fight fire with fire. They chose the second option when Nikhil Gangta took over the attack towards the bowlers. But his attacking approach brought Mumbai a third wicket as he hollowed out to Aman Khan at deep midwicket to give Kotian his first wicket.

Things went from bad to worse when Nitin Sharma tame threw a return catch at Kotian on the next delivery. Four balls later, when Rishi was tricked by a Shivam Dube cutter whom he lifted to midwicket, Himachal had lost three wickets for one.

Kotian wasn’t ready yet. From his second over, he had faced Prashant Chopra with some indecision as he stabbed a bum at a length to lob a catch at a diving Prithvi Shaw on a trailing point. With 58 for 6 this threatened to become a no-contest.

The lower order rally

Himachal, however, was not prepared to go down without a fight. Mumbai took a break and saw Akash Vasisht and Ekant Sen drag Himachal back with a quick counterattack. But it wasn’t blind plodding. Vasisht tactfully used his fold to pick holes behind the square while Kotian and left arm spinner Shams Mulani made a mistake in the length. At the first sign of overcompensation, Sen was aware of the possibility of hitting across the infield to retrieve his first six. It set the tone for a 60-run stand of just 46 deliveries to give Himachal a boost. Mayank Dagar then built on this partnership by providing the late bloom. His unbeaten 12-ball 21 lifts Himachal to 143.

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Sarfaraz the hero

When Mumbai lost two wickets – Dube and Aman – in the space of three deliveries in the 17th over to Arora, Mumbai felt the shivers. To add to the chaos, Mulani did the dressing room no favors by looking for a glory hit, only to cut an attempted hack across the line to cut the third man. At 119 for 7, it was Himachal’s match to lose.

Under immense pressure now, with the fast bowlers choking Mumbai on a surface that held out to make making a shot a little difficult, Sarfaraz looked for one slog too many against Dagar’s left arm spin. It was here that the game turned when Abhinay, kicking back with his short, fine leg, failed to judge the ball under pressure under the hazy night sky.

Sarfaraz would soon find his release shots to take home Mumbai, much to the delight of the rest of the squad as they pushed home to win their first title.

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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