Punjab got through owing to a superior net run-rate © PTI
Punjab got through owing to a superior net run-rate © PTI

Bilaspur: Nov 14, 2014

Punjab on Friday sealed a berth in the knockout stage of Vijay Hazare Trophy after scoring a comfortable three-wicket victory over hosts Himachal Pradesh in their final North Zone group match in Bilaspur. Opener Amitoze Singh (50) scored a half-century while Gurkeerat Singh missed out on his fifty by only one run as Punjab overhauled the 197-run target with 12 overs to spare at Luhnu Cricket Ground to finish on top of the points table.

Punjab bowlers did a splendid job to bowl out Himachal for a meager 196 and the hosts paid the price for poor batting as they missed out on qualifying for the next stage. Punjab (+0.557), Delhi (+0.428) and Himachal (+0.263) all ended the group stage with 12 points each but the first two teams qualified due to their better net run-rate.

Punjab medium pacer Baltej Singh rocked the Himachal top-order by dismissing opener Raghav Dhawan (15) and Ankit Kalsi (2). Paras Dogra played a fighting 53-run knock off 84 balls while Nikhil Gangta (27) and Rishi Dhawan (42) also played a part in reviving the Himachal innings. Sandeep Sharma (3/39) took three wickets for Punjab. Punjab made a steady start as Amitoze batting sensibly at the top even as they lost a few quick wickets. Gurkeerat also kept his cool, pushing the side nearer to the win.