Harleen Deol, Tanusree Sarkar shine as Himachal, Bengal complete semifinal line-up

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Harleen Deol, Tanusree Sarkar shine as Himachal, Bengal complete semifinal line-up
Quarterfinal 3: Himachal Pradesh vs Mumbai at Alur Cricket Ground 2, Bangalore

Himachal Pradesh continued their dream run with a convincing six-wicket win over Mumbai in the third quarterfinal.

The only team to have won all their eight league games, Himachal, after being asked to field first, dismissed Jemimah Rodrigues, the tournament’s second-highest run-getter, for a duck in the second over. Mumbai soon became 19 for 3, and there was only one partnership of significance after that as they were dismissed for 138 in 36.4 overs.

Himachal went to lunch at 35 for no loss in six overs. After play resumed, Nikita Chauhan and Harleen Deol continued to bat aggressively in their opening stand of 67. After Chauhan fell for 40, Deol steered the chase with an unbeaten 74, taking Himachal home with 7.2 overs to spare.

Mumbai lost their first three wickets within the sixth over before Mugdha Joshi and Sheryl R stitched together a stand of 59 to resurrect the innings. Anisha Ansari, who had picked up two of the first three wickets, ran out Joshi in the 20th over to put Himachal back on top. Joshi’s 42, which included five fours, was Mumbai’s highest score.

Soon after that Sheryl fell for 24 as Mumbai became 83 for 5. Except for H Kazi’s 30 there was hardly any resistance from the lower middle-order. Mumbai failed to utilise 13.2 overs – a cardinal sin in a knockout game.

Renuka Singh, Ansari, Tanuja Kanwer and Deol picked up two wickets each, and Sushmita Kumari got the crucial scalp of Sheryl.

Himachal’s opening stand between Chauhan and Deol was really aggressive. Chahuan hit eight fours in her 55-ball knock before Rodrigues sent her back in the 17th over. Mumbai, however, had little runs to realistically hope for a comeback. They used as many as nine bowlers with little luck.

Deol finished with nine fours in her 128-ball knock.

Himachal will take on Andhra in the second semifinal Just Cricket Ground on December 29.

Mumbai 138 in 36.4 overs (Mugdha Joshi 42, H Kazi 30; Renuka Singh 2-33, Anisha Ansari 2-24, Tanuja Kanwer 2-17, Harleen Deol 2-38) lost to Himachal Pradesh 140/4 in 42.4 overs (Nikita Chauhan 40, H Deol 74*) by six wickets.

Quarterfinal 4: Bengal vs Baroda at Alur Cricket Ground 3, Bangalore

Jhulan Goswami’s astute captaincy and some sharp bowling helped Bengal make up for a dismal batting performance and beat Baroda by 77 runs in the fourth quarterfinal.

Bengal had beaten Baroda by 130 runs in the league stage, and took the same route by opting to bat first. Baroda’s bowlers, however, were more planned in their approach this time around as they stifled the Bengal batters.

All the top five Bengal batters got starts, but no one was able to carry on as they were dismissed for 174 in 48.2 overs. Determined to make the best out of the total, Goswami first provided the breakthrough and then rotated her bowlers intelligently to restrict Baroda to 97 for 9.

Bengal received the first blow in the seventh over when NY Patel dismissed Dipali Shaw for 17. Shaw had shown intent with three fours in 22 balls, but her departure pulled the scoring rate down. Kesha and NY Patel put Baroda in an even stronger position when they sent back Prativa and Deepti in a space of four balls to reduce Bengal to 97 for 3 in 29.2 overs.

Prativa and Deepti had added 68 for the second wicket to set the base, but once the two departed there was a collapse, with Tarannum Pathan, the competition’s highest wicket-taker with 24 scalps, slicing through the middle-order with figures of 3 for 25.

Had it not been for Goswami’s 17-ball 12, Bengal would have struggled to cross 160.

Not new to such challenges, Goswami started Bengal’s defence with the wicket of Binaisha Surti in the third over. Creating pressure through dot balls became the theme, and when Shubhlakshmi Sharma conceded 12 runs in her first three overs she was taken out of the attack.

When she returned she bowled two consecutive maiden overs as Bengal strangled Baroda. Deepti, as is her wont, struck early too and once Baroda became 23 for 3 in 12.4 overs, Bengal had the necessary breathing space.

With wickets falling in a heap, Goswami held herself back after a first spell of five overs during which she conceded just six runs. The middle overs were majorly delivered by N Maji, Tanusree Sarkar and PB Pandey. It was only after nine wickets had fallen with more than 90 to get that Deepti came back into the attack.

If there was one area of concern for Bengal on the field, then it was to allow the last two Baroda pair to take the game till the end after they had become 58 for 8 in 29 overs.

Sarkar, who had made a vital 25 with the bat, impressed yet again with figures of 3 for 19 as Bengal set their semifinal date against Railways at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium on December 29. It will be for the first time since December 2014 that Goswami and Mithali Raj will face-off against each other in a 50-over competition. On that occasion in Rajkot, Bengal had prevailed over Railways by ten runs in a low-scoring thriller.

Bengal 174 in 48.2 overs (Deepti Sharma 33, Prativa 37, Tanusree Sarkar 25, Mandira Mahapatra 25; NY Patel 3-34, Tarannum Pathan 3-25, Radha Yadav 2-38) beat Baroda 97/9 in 50 overs (N Maji 2-13, T Sarkar 3-19) by 77 runs.