Captain Priyank Panchal scored a superbly-paced half-century (59, 45b, 1×4, 4×6) to guide Gujarat to a five-wicket win over Andhra in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy T20 cricket championship’s Elite Group D match at the Holkar Stadium in Indore on Thursday.
Chasing a modest target 130, Gujarat lost opener Urvil Patel (two), who hit pacer Harishankar Reddy straight to mid-off. Soon, left-arm spinner A. Lalith Mohan struck twice in quick succession to remove Priyesh Patel (12) and Saurav Chauhan, the latter smartly stumped by Srikar Bharat, to make it 46 for three in 6.5 overs.
But, to the dismay of the Andhra camp, Panchal exhibited wonderful stroke selection and smacked sixes at critical moments to put the pressure back on the opposition bowlers even as the other left-arm spinner, G. Manish, too bowled well.
When Panchal was run-out (104 for five) in the 16 overs, Andhra could have entertained hopes of a comeback, but Ripal Patel hit two huge sixes, the second one went out of the ground, off pacer K.V. Sasikanth to finish the contest in style for Gujarat.
Earlier, the Andhra top order came a cropper, including captain Bharat (20, 15b, 1×4, 1×6) and Hanuma Vihari (6, 4b), after being asked to bat.
Vihari started well, slashing pacer Chintan Gaja over the point region for a six, but was dismissed repeating the shot only to be caught in the deep in the same over.
The experienced leg-spinner Piyush Chawla lured Bharat to play a pull straight into the hands of the deep mid-wicket fielder.
With the in-form Karan Shinde (10) and Ricky Bhui (16) failing to fire, Andhra owed its respectable total to an unbroken 40-run stand for the ninth wicket between Girinath Reddy (14 n.o, 1×4) and Sasikanth (26 n.o., 18b, 4×4).