Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2023 – Riyan Parag helps Assam clinch a thriller, Sai Kishore tactically retires out

The group stage of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy concluded on Sunday, with six teams qualifying directly for the quarter-finals and four making it to the preliminary quarter-finals. The second week of the league stage featured some thrilling matches and some brilliant individual displays.

How the tables look

After seven rounds of matches, it’s Mumbai, Baroda, Punjab, Delhi, Vidarbha and Kerala who have made it directly to the quarter-finals. Assam, Bengal, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh, meanwhile, will have to qualify for the final eight via the preliminary quarter-finals.

Group A saw a close contest, with Mumbai, Baroda and Hyderabad all winning six of their seven games. But Hyderabad missed out due to inferior net run rate (NRR).

In Group B, Kerala also won six games, and Assam finished second with 20 points. Himachal Pradesh also finished with 20 points, but missed out, having lost their game against Assam – the head-to-head record is what matters when two teams are level on points; when more than two teams are on level points, NRR comes into play.

Punjab won all but one of their Group C matches and topped the table, with Gujarat behind them with five wins. Saurashtra also finished level on points with Gujarat, and had a better net run rate, but Gujarat pipped them due to the head-to-head record.

Group D saw a three-way tie at the top of the table, with Vidarbha, Bengal and Jharkhand all finishing with four wins, but Jharkhand had the worst net run rate of the three.

Delhi dominated Group E, winning five of their six games. Uttar Pradesh managed the best net run rate among the four teams that finished below Delhi with 14 points.

Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh will face off in Mohali on Tuesday, followed by the second preliminary quarter-final between Assam and Bengal at the same venue.

Riyan Parag helps Assam clinch a thriller

Riyan Parag has been Assam’s star man in this year’s Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, and he once again came to the party when Assam took on Himachal Pradesh in what was practically a must-win encounter. And the game turned out to be an absolute humdinger.

After being put in to bat, Assam smashed 231, with wicketkeeper Sumit Ghadigaonkar hitting 71 off 43 balls and Parag smashing 72 off 37, as the two put on a 120-run stand.

But Himachal Pradesh fought back hard and looked like they would take the game away. Opener Prashant Chopra set the platform with his 51-ball 88 and it was Rishi Dhawan who almost led his team to victory with an unbeaten 31-ball 72, but they fell just two runs short in the end.

In the end, the win helped Assam not just finish level on points with Himachal Pradesh, but also get the head-to-head advantage they needed to finish second in the group.

Parag himself has been in terrific form, hitting six half-centuries in seven games and leading the run charts at the end of the group stage.

Ravi Teja shines but Hyderabad miss out

Right arm medium pacer Ravi Teja has enjoyed a stellar season, picking 19 wickets in seven matches. Having raced to 14 wickets in the first week, he ran through the Mumbai top order to help Hyderabad defend 156.

Hit for 16 runs by a marauding Yashasvi Jaiswal in his first three balls, he hit back by dismissing Jaiswal on the fourth. He then dismissed Ajinka Rahane, Shivam Dube and Shams Mulani as Mumbai were restricted to 132 for 8. It was Mumbai’s only defeat in the group stage.

Sai Kishore retires out

Sai Kishore walked out to bat at the start of the 18th over against Madhya Pradesh, with Tamil Nadu at 132 and looking to finish strong. He couldn’t get going though, making 1 off 3 before he was retired out in the penultimate over.

Tamil Nadu finished with 154, which was not enough as Madhya Pradesh recorded a comfortable victory. It turned out to be a disappointing season overall for Tamil Nadu, managing just three wins and finishing fifth in their group.

Abhimanyu Bose is a sub-editor with ESPNcricinfo

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