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Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy: Aparajith stars as Tamil Nadu make semis | Cricket News

CHENNAI: Baba Aparajith had very little to do with the willow – managing just 8 runs in the lone innings he batted — during the league phase of the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20s. However, the 26-year-old came to the party with an unbeaten knock of 52 that helped Tamil Nadu beat Himachal Pradesh by five wickets in the quarterfinals at the Motera Stadium in Ahmedabad on Tuesday.
Aparajith’s unfinished sixth wicket stand of 75 from 32 deliveries with Shahrukh Khan (40 n.o, 5×4, 2×6) helped TN chase down 136 with 13 balls to spare. The other crucial contribution for TN came from medium-pacer Sonu Yadav (3 for 14) in the first half of the clash.
A modest target set by Himachal proved to be a big test for TN. Himachal’s medium-pacer Vaibhav Arora (3-30) struck thrice in his first two overs to leave TN struggling at 25 for 3. He cleaned up the in-form openers N Jagadeesan (7) and C Hari Nishaanth (17) before accounting for Arun Karthick (0) as TN started off in an ordinary fashion. Aparajith, who came in at No. 3, began with a boundary towards covers in the fifth ball he faced. He added 35 for the fourth wicket in 40 deliveries with Sonu (16, 2×4) to get the chase going. With the wicket helping the pacers in the early part of the innings, Aparajith chose not to try anything fancy. He preferred to run the singles and twos to keep the scoreboard ticking. Aparajith was given a life at the long-on fence when on 24 and that was the only loose shot he played during his 45-ball knock.
TN’s chase got the momentum once Shahrukh arrived at the crease. In the 15th over bowled by Arora, both Aparajith and Shahrukh opened up as 18 runs were hit. Their 32-ball partnership made sure TN made the semifinals.
The first half of the evening belonged to Rishi Dhawan (35 n.o.) and Sonu Yadav. The Himachal skipper, who has been in good form through the tournament, didn’t take long to settle down. Arriving at the crease when his side were 68 for 3 in the 12th over, Dhawan began by adding 31 runs for the fourth wicket with Ravi Thakur (16) in 20 balls. Despite losing partners at the other end, Dhawan’s innings ensured Himachal scored 63 from the last 7 overs. For TN, Sonu was the standout bowler.
Right from the time he got the ball in the second over, Sonu was on the money. He varied his pace and bowled a tidy line. His first two overs in the Powerplay read an impressive 2-1-6-1. If that wasn’t enough, Sonu stood out in the death overs as well. None of the Himachal batsmen read him and Sonu ended the match with figures of 3 for 14. Apart from Sonu, the other notable contributor for TN with the ball was medium-pacer Sandeep Warrier (2 for 32).
Brief scores: Himachal Pradesh 135-9 in 20 overs (Rishi Dhawan 35 n.o.; Sonu Yadav 3-14, Sandeep Warrier 2-32). Tamil Nadu 141-5 in 17.5 overs (B Aparajith 52 n.o., Shahrukh Khan 40 n.o.; Vaibhav Arora 3-30). TN won by 5 wickets.

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