Rishi Dhawan and Akash Vasisht’s excellent all-around efforts in the first semifinal at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur on Friday secured Himachal Pradesh’s first Vijay Hazare Trophy final spot, as they defeated Services by 77 runs (December 24). The pair put on a crucial 83-run sixth-wicket stand, with 84 and an unbeaten 45 respectively, to lift Himachal’s total to a respectable 281/6 before taking six wickets between them to derail Services’ pursuit.
Himachal recovered from an early setback thanks to a 74-run second-wicket stand between Prashant Chopra (78 of 109) and Digvijay Rangi, but a minor collapse followed, leaving them reeling at 106 for 4 in under 25 overs after being put in to bat first. That’s when skipper Dhawan and Chopra teamed up to put on an 88-run stand en route to a fluent 84 off 77 deliveries. After Chopra’s exit, just as Himachal was approaching the 200-run mark, Vasisht teamed up with the captain and smashed 45 off just 29 deliveries, including four boundaries and a couple of sixes, to help their side finish strongly.
If the big target wasn’t enough of a challenge, Services’ pursuit was also hampered by a lack of momentum. In the space of six overs, Dhawan dismissed both Lakhan Singh and Mohit Ahlawat. Rajat Paliwal (55) and Ravi Chauhan, the unbeaten opener, were effective in consolidating a little but consumed too many deliveries in the process to allow the asking rate to rise dramatically. When Vasisht removed Chauhan on 45 to end their 49-run partnership after 24.4 overs, Services were already looking at more than eight runs per over. Vasisht took up his second in rapid succession, but Services’ plan backfired immediately as he sought to accelerate. Services collapsed in the next 10 overs from 154 for 5 at the start of the 37th over, when skipper Paliwal departed on 55, to fold for just 204 in reply.