New Delhi: The battle for Vijay Hazare Trophy knock-out berths from North Zone has gone down to the wire with Punjab and Delhi winning their penultimate league games on Wednesday.
Delhi outplayed Haryana by six wickets at the Ferozeshah Kotla while Punjab trounced Services by 98 runs at the Palam Ground. Delhi, Services and Punjab have 12 points each with Punjab leading the points table courtesy a better run-rate.
In the final round of North Zone qualifiers slated for Thursday, Punjab face Himachal Pradesh at Palam while Delhi host Services at Kotla. The two top teams will go through to the knock-outs.
On Wednesday at the Kotla, Milind Kumar (70 not out off 106) struck his second consecutive fifty to take Delhi beyond Haryana's 200 for six in 46.1 overs. Senior batsman Mithun Manhas (68 off 74) performed his role well with a classy knock.
Delhi's chase began in the worst possible manner with Unmukt Chand being adjudged leg before wicket off pacer Mohit Sharma on the first ball of the innings. Chand left the field dejected, suggesting the ball had also touched his bat.
Skipper Gautam Gambhir (20) suffered his third failure in as many innings after getting caught behind off speedster Harshal Patel.
Jagrit Anand, who scored a half century in the last game after replacing an "ill" Virender Sehwag at number three, was dismissed cheaply this time. His expansive drive went straight into the hands of cover fielder Sachin Rana, leaving Delhi 41 for three in 12 th over.
Manhas and Milind got Delhi out of a precarious situation by sharing 96 runs for the fourth wicket.
In the end, the home team was cruising to victory when Manhas gave a return catch to Bhupinder Lingwal. Milind stayed till end alongside Puneet Bisht (26 not out) to wrap up the tie.
Earlier, Lingwal made an unbeaten 51 and with the support of Sonu Rathee (39 not out), took Haryana to 200. The visitors did well to not to lose a wicket from 109 for six.
Medium pacer Sumit Narwal took two wickets for Delhi and Ashish Nehra and Ishant Sharma picked up one each.