Alur (Karnataka): Riding on Robin Bist's unbeaten 109, Himachal Pradesh posted a five-wicket win over Punjab and entered the semifinals of the Vijay Hazare trophy cricket here yesterday.
After restricting Punjab to 263 for eight, HP reached the target, scoring 266 for five with four balls to spare. Mandeep Singh scored a century for Punjab but it went in vain. Put in to bat, Punjab lost openers Jiwanjot Singh (20) and Pargat Singh (0) early but Mandeep Singh scored a superb 145-ball 119 with the help of nine fours and a six to put the team back on track.
By the time he got out, Mandeep had put Punjab in a commanding position. He maintained his composure even as his much fancied teammates Yuvraj Singh (5) and Gurkeerat Singh (35) lost their wickets. Mandeep later found able support in Gitansh Khera (23) and Harbhajan Singh (25).
For HP, Pankaj Jaiswal (3/50) and Rishi Dhawan (3/60) were the pick of the bowlers. Chasing the target, HP lost two wickets inside the first six overs against a spirited Punjab pace attack. At one stage, HP were struggling at 77 for three in the 22nd over, but Bist managed to steady the boat, hitting 109 not out off 135 deliveries, including nine hits to the fence.
Bist also found an ally in Rishi Dhawan (41) and the duo put on 102 runs together for the fourth wicket that came at a run-a-ball. But despite bringing the target within striking distance, HP faced some problem with Dhawan mistiming a pull shot.
Himachal needed 85 to win off 66 balls, and Bist rose to the occasion. He effortlessly brought out the big hitter in him to bring up his maiden List A ton and helped the team advance to semifinals. Siddarth Kaul took three for 42 for Punjab.
Punjab: 263/8 in 50 overs (Mandeep Singh 119; Pankaj Jaiswal 3/50, Rishi Dhawan 3/60). Himachal Pradesh: 266/5 in 49.2 overs (Robin Bist 109 not out; Siddarth Kaul 3/42).
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