Mumbai: Stop us if you can! This seems to be the mantra of the Baroda team, who are on a roll in the ongoing Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament here. They beat Delhi by 16 runs to record their sixth win in a row yesterday. For Delhi, it was their second consecutive loss in as many games in the Super League-cum-knockout stage.
Lukman Meriwala, who hails from a tiny village, Makan, which is close to his teammate and India pacer Munaf Patel's village Ikhar, was the star performer for Baroda. The left-arm pacer claimed his maiden fifer (5-23) to help Baroda win at the Bandra Kurla Complex ground.
Delhi managed to score only 115-9 in their 20 overs in reply to Baroda's 131-6. Mohit Sharma who fell for one was Meriwala's first victim. Trying to cut the ball, Sharma mistimed it and Abhijit Karambelkar took a diving catch in front. Meriwala was even more impressive in his second over, claiming the wickets of Dhruv Shorey (7) and Punit Bisht (0). Once the top three Delhi wickets had fallen, Baroda tightened their grip on the match.
While the Baroda bowlers kept their line and length tight, the fielders made sure Delhi had to fight hard for every run. Baroda never allowed Delhi to go above four runs an over even as the asking rate kept rocketing. Apart from Jagrit Anand (54) and Yogesh Nagar (31) there were no other notable contributions.
Meriwala came back stronger in his fourth over and the penultimate over of the match to claim two more wickets – Anand and Javed Khan - to complete a memorable fifer.
"The wicket was slow and one had to bowl smartly on this track. If you did that well, wickets would come. I had to use many variations as they had a good batting attack," said Meriwala, who is into his second season for Baroda.
The victors had a sluggish start, but thanks to Krunal Pandya's onslaught (8-ball 22 not out) in the end, Baroda managed to post a respectable total. Pandya and Deepak Hooda managed to score 16 runs in the last over.
Earlier in the day, Vivek Singh's 48 went in vain as Bengal fell 14 runs short of Rajasthan's 137-9 in 20 overs. Rajasthan's pacers Rituraj Singh (3-11) and Deepak Chahar (2-25) did well to restrict Bengal to 123-7. Almost all Rajasthan batsmen chipped in, but most important contributions came from Ankit Lamba (37 off 34 balls) and Rajesh Bishnoi (36 off 18 balls).