Sarfaraz, Kotian steer Mumbai to maiden Mushtaq Ali Trophy title
Domestic giants beat Himachal Pradesh by three wickets in a thrilling low-scoring final of the national T20 tournament at the Eden Gardens
After 13 failed attempts, 41-time Ranji Trophy winners Mumbai finally found the winning formula in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy national T20 tournament. Under Ajinkya Rahane, they became the first Mumbai side to add the trophy to their packed cabinet by beating Himachal Pradesh by three wickets under lights at the Eden Gardens on Saturday.
The win did not come easy against HP, perhaps the most improved white-ball side on the domestic circuit. It was Mumbai’s most trusted long-format batter Sarfaraz Khan who bailed them out in a low-scoring thriller.
Defending a below par 143, HP pacer Vaibhav Arora’s fiery second spell–he got the wickets of Shreyas Iyer (34), Shivam Dube (7) and Aman Khan (6) with sharp short balls—had reduced Mumbai to 121/7. With 23 needed off 12 balls, the pressure was entirely on Sarfaraz who, batting on 21 off 27, wasn’t middling the ball that much. But as he would say after the match, he knew they would win if he was there till the end. A horizontal hit over pacer Kanwar Abhinay’s head for four, a lofted six over the bowler and a glided four past third man later, Sarfaraz had reduced the target to run-a-ball for the final over. Tanush Kotian, the off-spinner who was productive with the ball (4-0-15-3), hit the winning six.
“We wanted to make sure there would not be a repeat of the Ranji final (Mumbai lost to Madhya Pradesh),” Sarfaraz said.
HP had got off to the worst possible start, losing six wickets for 58. Ankush Bains, the first to go leg before to Mohit Awasthi was unfortunate as the delivery struck him outside the line of off-stump. But it was Kotian’s tight lines that delivered three wickets in a hurry to set HP back before they recovered by getting 49 runs in the death overs.
Mumbai were determined not to let the title opportunity go by. Prithvi Shaw’s slashing blade, Shreyas Iyer’s (34) experience, Sarfaraz’s calm and plenty of wickets from Tushar Deshpande, Mohit Awasthi and Shams Mulani capped Mumbai’s winning tournament campaign.
Brief Scores: Himachal Pradesh 143/8 (A Vasisht 25, E Sen 37, M Avasti 3/21, T Kotian 3/15); Mumbai 146/7 in 19.3 overs (S Iyer 34, S Khan 36*, V Arora 3/27, R Dhawan 2/26, M Dagar 2/24). Mumbai won by 3 wickets.