Uttar Pradesh weren’t quite on song but overcame Himachal Pradesh on a dodgy wicket as the city celebrated the coronation of its own Sourabhee Devburman as Indian Idol.
Just about a couple of hundred turned out at the Maharaja Bir Bikram Stadium where entry was free. The rest, it seemed, were busy bringing out processions and playing loudspeakers.
The game was a study in contrasts and both teams found it difficult to come to terms with some uneven bounce.
The ball stopped at times while some turned sharply. A match was on the moment Uttar Pradesh lost their first wicket off the fourth ball after electing to bat. Better resources and application won them the crucial phases and a semi-final berth in the national one-day championship.
The starts were similar and both teams were two down under 20 with Uttar Pradesh captain Mohammad Kaif being among the casualties. He didn’t move his feet and chased one that was swinging away. His team, however, recovered through two important partnerships whereas Himachal Pradesh faltered before and after their only one. They were less incisive in the middle overs and also paid for poor catching.
Ranji Trophy semi-final heroes Shivakant Shukla and Parvinder Singh steadied Uttar Pradesh with a third-wicket stand of 58 characterised by dogged batting against disciplined bowling.
The pitch prevented forcing shots and Singh fell trying one when someone had to take chances.
Shivakant swept and missed the line of a full toss. It became five for 105 in the 35th over when Ravikant Shukla (55 off 93,4x4) and Piyush Chawla (56 off 46, 4x4, 2x6) shared the decisive partnership of 79 in 71 balls.
Bhuvnesh Kumar’s fine opening spell, where he moved the ball both ways, dealt Himachal Pradesh two early blows and just when a slow partnership was developing, the reliable Vinit Indulkar was run out.
Bhavin Thakkar and Ajay Mannu kept them in business adding 54 in a stand similar to Uttar Pradesh’s third-wicket partnership. At 103 for three in the 31st over they were very much in it when Thakkar tried hitting Chawla over extra-cover and ended up guiding it to the fielder placed squarer in the deep.