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Syed Mushtaq Ali T20: All-round Punjab ready for Baroda challenge

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Two unbeaten teams, Punjab and Baroda, will meet in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy semifinal in Ahmedabad on Friday.

Punjab and Baroda aced the group stages, with five wins in as many games, before recording contrasting victories in the quarterfinals.

While Punjab cruised past Karnataka by nine wickets, Baroda edged out Haryana in a thriller.

Baroda owes this semifinal spot to Vishnu Solanki, who sealed the tense chase against Haryana with a last-ball helicopter shot which went for six. Solanki and skipper Kedar Devdhar – the team’s highest run-scorer in the tournament – have emerged as Baroda’s batting mainstays.

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Left-arm pacer Lukman Meriwala leads the Baroda bowling unit with 11 wickets, even if his last three matches have yielded only three wickets.

Baroda will be severely tested by Punjab, which boasts of one the best bowling attacks in the competition. Pacers Siddharth Kaul (13 wickets) and Arshdeep Singh (10 wickets) have done big damage at the start of the innings, and have received fine support from Sandeep Sharma, Ramandeep Singh, Mayank Markande and Harpreet Brar. Every bowler possesses an economy rate of less than 7 – an indication of their disciplined approach.

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On the batting front, Punjab has been well served by opener Prabhsimran Singh, the highest run-scorer of the tournament (326 runs). Prabhsimran has scores of 43, 89 n.o., 63, 73 n.o. and 49 n.o., to more than compensate for one failure (9 vs. Tripura). Fellow opener Abhishek Sharma has also come good, holding an impressive tournamentaverage of 40.2. Captain Mandeep Singh is a dependable presence in the middle-order, coming off crucial knocks (35 n.o. and 99 n.o.) in the previous two matches.

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