Tamil Nadu thrashed Baroda comprehensively by 7 wickets in the final of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Tournament 2020-21 played at the Sardar Patel Stadium, Motera.
This was Tamil Nadu’s second title win in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Tournament after winning in the inaugural year back in 2006-07. Both the wins came under Dinesh Karthik’s captaincy which is a milestone in the keeper Batsman’s career. Baroda who had won the title twice in 2011-12 and 2013-14 ended up being runners-up this time around .
After winning the toss on a spin friendly wicket , Tamil Nadu decided to field first considering their strong spin department . Baroda lost their opener N.Rathva early when B.Aparajith struck In the second over of the innings trying to cut a full length ball. Captain K.Devdhar was looking good at the other end but was soon dismissed by Siddharth who deceived the Baroda captain in flight . Siddharth , who was playing his first match of the tournament, then accounted for Smit Patel in the next over . The left arm spinner then broke the Baroda middle order by striking twice in the ninth over as he dismissed A.Rajput and K.Kakhade respectively which reduced Baroda to 36-6 .
This was not the start Baroda was expecting in the night of the final .In form batsman V.Solanki then got a crucial partnership going with A.Sheth and saved the Baroda innings from sinking as they tactically rotated the strike against the spinners and attacked the Pacers in the last few overs as they held a 58 run partnership for the 7th wicket. Solanki was run out on 49 by S.Kishore which shattered the hopes of getting past the 150 run mark as Baroda finished on 120/9 on 20 overs setting a target of 121 for Tamil Nadu to win the final which was not enough to challenge the strong Tamil Nadu side.
Tamil Nadu’s chase-
While chasing , both the openers put on a short but solid opening run partnership . Tamil Nadu lost their first wicket with 26 runs on the board as N.Jagadeesan (14) was dismissed by Meriwala. Baroda then managed to break a 41-run partnership between B.Aparajith and Nishanth by dismissing the latter in the 12th over . With 53 more runs to win, skipped D.Karthik showed his experience by not taking any risks and playing some calculated strokes and B.Aparajith held one end tightly. Karthik was then dismissed in the 16th over as he made 22(16).
But it was too little too late for Baroda as Tamil Nadu won by 7 wickets . Aparajith (29*) and S.Khan (18*) ensured that their team reaches the finish line without anymore hiccups . This was a clinical performance from Tamil Nadu as they utilized their strengths and ability after being runners up last year . Siddharth was the pick of the bowlers for Tamil Nadu in the final as he ended up with figures of 4-20 and never gave Baroda a chance to comeback in the match .
This was a proud moment for Tamil Nadu cricket as they had new individuals putting their hand up in every match and also for producing cricketers like T.Natarajan and W.Sundar who did wonders for the country in the recently concluded Australia tour . On the other hand, Baroda will be gutted but they should be proud of what they’ve achieved as a team as they had some big players missing and credit goes to them for reaching final with an inexperienced team. Despite plenty of outside noise , Baroda has managed to put up a show and gave a glimpse of its bench strength.