Akshar Patel is the leading wicket-taker in the tournament so far © Getty Images
Akshar Patel is the leading wicket-taker in the tournament so far © Getty Images

Vijay Hazare Trophy 2015-16 has reached its final stage, in which Delhi take on Gujarat in the grand finale in Bengaluru on December 28. Delhi beat Himachal Pradesh in the semi-final, while Gujarat beat Tamil Nadu by 31 runs to advance. It has been an excellent tournament, one where many players have stepped up and performed well. A few have even made it to the Indian team after impressing the national selectors. Vidarbha, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab exited the tournament in the quarter-final stage itself Pramod Ananth lists out some of the excellent performances from the knock out stage of the tournament. 

Robin Bist 109* vs Punjab in 1st quarter-final: Bist top-scored for Himachal Pradesh in the first quarter-final of the tournament, which helped Himachal Pradesh chase Punjab’s target of 264 with four balls to spare. Bist came to bat in the fourth over after opener Ankush Bains was dismissed. He stitched a couple of half-century partnerships with Paras Dogra and Nikhil Gangta, but his 102-run stand with Rishi Dhawan for the fourth wicket gave Himachal Pradesh a perfect platform to finish the game. They did just that as they beat Punjab by five wickets to book their place in the semi-final. Full updates:  Vijay Hazare Trophy 2015-16, Himachal Pradesh vs Punjab, 1st Quarter-Final at Alur

Rajagopal Sathish 1 for 14 and 34* vs Uttar Pradesh in 3rd quarter-final: In a low-scoring encounter at M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru, Sathish stood out with his all-round show. He completely choked Uttar Pradesh’s batting with some accurate bowling and then smashed 34 runs coming into bat at No. 8, which helped Tamil Nadu win a nail-biting match by one wicket. Full updates: Vijay Hazare Trophy 2015-16, Tamil Nadu vs Uttar Pradesh, 3rd Quarter-Final at Bengaluru

Akshar Patel 2 for 22 and 36* vs Vidarbha in 4th quarter-final: Akshar Patel is the leading wicket-taker in the tournament with 19 scalps at an average of 13 and an economy rate of just over three. He had an excellent game against Vidarbha he finished with 2 for 22 with the ball, restricting his opponents to just 195. He then finished things off for his team with the bat remaining unbeaten on 36 and guided Gujarat to a two-wicket win against Vidarbha. Full updates: Vijay Hazare Trophy 2015-16, Vidarbha vs Gujarat, 4th Quarter-Final at Alur

Unmukt Chand 80* vs Himachal Pradesh in 1st semi-final: Delhi needed just 201 to win the match and go through to the final. All the batsmen got starts but did not convert it into something big. Unmukt cashed in on this opportunity and guided his team over the finish line with an unbeaten 86-ball 80 with seven fours and two sixes punctuating his innings. Delhi eventually won the match easily by six wickets with over eight overs to spare. Full updates:  Vijay Hazare Trohy 2015-16, Delhi v Himachal Pradesh, 1st semi-final at Bengaluru

Abhinav Mukund 104* vs Gujarat in 2nd semi-final: Even though Mukund’s feat went in vain, it deserves a mention. Mukund created history by becoming only the second batsman in the Vijay Hazare trophy history to have carried his bat in an all-out innings. He put on 84 for the first wicket with Dinesh Karthik, but none of the batsmen managed to stick around, leaving Mukund high and dry at the crease. Tamil Nadu did not make it to the final, but it was  fine innings by the opening batsman. Full updates: Vijay Hazare Trophy 2015-16, Gujarat vs Tamil Nadu, 2ndsemi-final at Alur

Akshar Patel 6 for 43 vs Tamil Nadu in 2nd semi-final: Akshar features in the list again, having picked up his career-best figures of 6 for 43 in yet another crucial game, this time against Tamil Nadu. Tamil Nadu were set a target of 249 by Gujarat and it seemed as though they would cruise through to a win as they were 84 for no loss in the 17th over. From there, Akshar started picking one wicket after the other and Tamil Nadu eventually fell short by 31 runs despite an unbeaten century from Mukund.

(Pramod Ananth is a reporter at CricketCountry. He has represented Karnataka table tennis under-15, and is a hardcore supporter of Liverpool FC. His Twitter handle is @pramz)