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    Saurashtra lose in Vijay Hazare league

    Mumbai: Despite Cheteshwar Pujara's fine knock of 80, Saurashtra got bundled out for a mere 173, which Gujarat achieved comfortably to register a four-wicket victory in an inconsequential West Zone Vijay Hazare one-day league tie here on Tuesday.

    Electing to bat first here at the Wankhede Stadium, Saurashtra scored 173 all out in 47.5 overs and in reply Gujarat reached the target, making 175 for six in 39.3 overs.

    Saurashtra got off to a poor start with three of their batsmen out for ducks, even as the scorecard read 14 for four.

    Pujara then coupled with Chirag Jani (42) to consolidate the innings.

    The duo managed to take the score past the 100-run mark but once the 22-year-old Jani was dismissed, it was left to Pujara, who hit three sixes and as many fours in his 126-ball 80, to single-handedly guide Saurashtra to 173.

    For Gujarat, debutant opening bowler Rush Kalaria took 4 for 21.

    In reply to Saurashtra's modest total, Gujarat got off to a good start with the openers, Avi Barot and Priyank Panchal putting up a half-century stand together to lay a solid platform.

    Thereafter, Sunny Patel (43) helped the team win easily.

    Both sides were already out of the content_cnion for a berth in the inter-zonals before today's final league game.

    Meanwhile in Delhi, left-arm spinner Rajwinder Singh Golu returned with career-best figures of five for 20 as Punjab crushed Himachal Pradesh by 84 runs at the Palam ground, to comfortably make it to the knock-out stages.

    Punjab scored 217 for eight in 50 overs and then Rajwinder ripped through the HP middle-order to dismiss them for 133 runs in 41.5 overs. Punjab thus finished second in the group with four victories having lost one match against Delhi.

    Skipper Harbhajan Singh was again at his economical best as he had figures of one for 31 in eight overs.

    For Punjab, in-from Gurkirat Singh Ahluwalia scored 59 while Taruwar Kohli (31) and Mandeep Singh (34) made some useful contributions.

    Himachal Pradesh's Rishi Dhawan put up an all-round show which went in-vain. Rishi grabbed two for 44 while bowling and then hit 43 off 51 deliveries with the help of seven fours and a six.

    In another match in Delhi, India pacer Ishant Sharma was back playing competitive cricket after a month's lay-off but looked gingerly during Delhi's comfortable 62-run victory over Services at the Feroz Shah Kotla ground.

    Incidentally, chairman of selectors Krishnamachari Srikkanth had especially dropped in at the Kotla to watch Ishant bowl as he wanted to get an update on the erratic speedster's fitness. Ishant sent down six overs getting one for 29 in the process.

    Ishant last played at Adelaide during the fourth Test match between India and Australia. He had a disastrous tour where he got only six wickets in four Test matches and the general notion has been that he is not hundred percent fit.

    On the day, Ishant bowled in two spells of four and two overs respectively. He got a wicket with his very second delivery when he bowled Jasvir Singh. However, he didn't look very threatening after that and wasn't seen exerting himself too much.

    While another left-arm seamer Pawan Suyal who has made comeback after major knee surgery bowled his full quota of 10 overs, Ishant bowled lesser number of overs than skipper Rajat Bhatia who sent down nine overs of military medium stuff.

    It is highly unlikely that Ishant who has never been an automatic choice in the limited overs version would be preferred even though senior-pro Zaheer Khan is likely to be rested for the Asia Cup.