EVEN BEFORE the start of the final league match on Sunday, star-studded and host Sahara India's dreams of making it to the semi-finals of the 56th Sahara City Homes Sheesh Mahal Cricket Tournament was shattered.
It was an early morning heavy rains, which dashed Sahara India's hopes as they had to split points with Rizvi Builders, which marched into the semi-finals with 11 points from three matches from Pool 'B' on Sunday.
Sahara India with seven points in three matches finished third in the pool, and Indian Oil with nine points booked their expected place in the semi-finals. Colombo Colts with minus three points in three matches finished at the bottom. At the KD Singh 'Babu' Stadium, it was an easy outing for the Indian Oil, which notched up a thumping 10 wickets win against Sri Lanka's Colombo Colts in a rain-curtailed tie. Both openers Chateshwar Pujara and A Rahane appeared attacking from the very first ball and helped the side reach home in 15.4 overs without being separated.
Rahane struck 60 in 51 balls with six fours and three sixes, while Pujara made 50 in 43 balls with four fours and two sixes. Desperate looking Colombo Colts used as many as six bowlers to break the partnership, but to no avail.
Earlier, after being sent to bat first Colombo Colts batsmen never looked settled in the middle and were reduced to 16/3 in the fourth over. Opener N Abeyratne with his patience knock of 45 in 60 balls with four boundaries tried to anchor the innings, but didn't get adequate support from the other end. Seamer Balakrishna Shirke turned out to be the wrecker-in-chief for the Indian Oil, bagging 4/31, while Sanjay Pal and Abhishek Raut shared four wickets between them to skittle out visitors for paltry 110 in 23.5 overs.
On Monday, Indian Oil take on ONGC, at the KD Singh 'Babu' Stadium in the first semi-final, while Air India meet Rizvi Builders in the second semi-final, at the Chowk Stadium. The final is slated for June 11.
Colombo Colts 110 in 23.5 overs (N Abeyratne 45, A Janoda 18, Balakrishna Shirke 4 for 31, Sanjay Pal 2 for 22, Abhishek Raut 2 for 24) lost to Indian Oil 114 for no loss in 15.4 overs (A Rahane 60 not out, Chateshwar Pujara 50 not out).