Yuvrraj Singh exploded at the right time to pilot Punjab into the final of the All-India Twenty20 Championship.
The left-hander’s hurricane 70 at number three helped Punjab amass 201 for five, the highest in the Mumbai leg, against a spineless Orissa attack.
In reply, the runners-up from East Zone league managed only 130 for seven, leaving Punjab victors by 71 runs, the biggest victory margin here. The last match of the league between Karnataka and Railways has been rendered useless as Punjab made the grade having defeated both Railways and Karnataka.
The timing was perfect. Yuvraj, who had failed in the previous three innings, making 0, 25 and 12, blazed at the Wankhede stadium just a day before the national selectors named the squad for the Bangladesh tour.
And when Punjab needed someone to put the issue beyond Orissa after being put in to bat, Yuvraj bludgeoned Orissa.
Yuvraj pulled gloriously for fours (he had eight in all) in the first half of his 39-ball effort before going for the bigger ones. One pull went over the roof of the stadium.
Dinesh Mongia supported Yuvraj well with 43 (35b, 5x4) and the duo shared 91 in 61 balls for the third wicket. Punjab accelerated in the last 10 overs, scoring 126 in that lot. Harbhajan continued to shine with the bat making 18 from 8 balls with two sixes and one four and was involved in a 44-run stand in three overs for the fifth wicket with Vipul Sharma (26 not out, 11b, 2x4, 1x6).
Brief scores: Punjab 201/5 (Ravneet Ricky 25, Yuvraj Singh 70, Dinesh Mongia 43, Vipul Sharma 26 n.o.) bt Orissa 130/7 (Bikash Pati 30, Paresh Patel 20, P Jayachandra 39; Amit Uniyal 3-22).
Railways down Karnataka
Railways defeated Karnataka by 7 wickets at the Brabourne stadium to finish second in Group A behind Punjab. Chasing Karnataka’s 162 for 5, Railways reached the target comfortably with five balls to spare.
Brief scores: Karnataka 162/5 in 20 overs (Robin Uthappa 31, Thilak Naidu 44, Deepak Chougule 28 n.o, B Akhil 29 n.o.; Sanjib Sanyal 2-28) lost to Railways 163/3 in 19.1 overs (Amit Pagnis 47 retd hurt, Tejinder Pal Singh 29, Shreyas Khanolkar 47 n.o.).
Tamil Nadu enter final, Mumbai beat Bengal
After Tamil Nadu qualified for the Twenty20 final with a 12-run win over Madhya Pradesh earlier in the day, Mumbai put in a gritty performance to beat Bengal by 31 runs at Motera on Thursday.
Mumbai had only pride to play for, while Bengal had the chance of playing Punjab in the final instead of Tamil Nadu on Saturday.
Brief scores: Tamil Nadu 162 in 20 overs (Karthik 37; Billa 4/26); Haryana 111 in 19.4 overs (Sahani 25, Sandeep Singh 25*; S Vidyut four for 14).
Mumbai 148 for 7 in 20 overs (Sachin Tendulkar 38, Ajinkya Rahane 33, Amol Muzumdar 34) beat Bengal 117 for six in 20 overs (LR Shukla 48 not out, Ajit Agarkar 2-12) by 31 runs.