New Delhi: Chandan Madan (78 not out) and allrounder Bipul Sharma took Punjab past Hyderabad into the semi-finals of the Vijay Hazare Trophy here on Wednesday.
Chasing a target of 176, Punjab strolled to victory with 53 balls to spare and set up a meeting with Bengal on Saturday.
Hyderabad, electing to bat, lost Ravi Teja (7) early but Tirumalasetti Suman (34) and Akshath Reddy (37) strung together a gritty 69-run partnership. However, after the two fell, the Hyderabad innings collapsed.
Barring Ibrahim Khaleel (46) and Hanuman Vihari (21) none of the other batsmen could get into double-figures. Khaleel did his best to hold one end up, however wickets kept tumbling around him and Hyderabad were bowled out for 175 in 49.2 overs.
Bipul Sharma (4-31) and Rahul Sharma (3-40) proved difficult for the Hyderabad batsmen on a slowish Palam track.
Punjab had the worst possible start to their chase, losing their top three batsmen for 28 runs. When Taruwar Kohli (12) fell with the score on 53, Punjab were in trouble. Anwar Ahmed was the pick of Hyderabad bowlers taking two wickets but surprisingly he was given only four overs by captain Ravi Teja.
However, Madan and Amitoze Singh (16) stuck it out in the middle and inched closer to the Hyderabad target. Singh though was dismissed by Teja and in walked the Punjab's bowling hero Bipul Sharma.
Sharma and Madan buckled down as Punjab stuttered towards their target. India spinner Pragyan Ojha bowled without much luck but was very accurate. He would have picked up a couple of wickets but a couple of catches were dropped.
Hyderabad were lacklustre in the field which helped Punjab in the end reach their target with relative ease. They allowed Madan and Sharma to knock the ball around and rotate the strike at will.
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