Punjab became the Champions of the 2023/24 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy season defeating Baroda in a high-scoring thriller played at PCA Stadium, Mohali on 6th November 2023.
Baroda captain Krunal Pandya won the toss and decided to field first. It was an ideal start as star batter Abhishek Sharma and Prabhsimran Singh went cheaply. Anmolpreet Singh and Mandeep Singh steadied the ship. At the end of the first six overs, Punjab scored 44 for 2.
After the field restrictions, Anmolpreet Singh showed his class putting on an excellent display of batting completing his fifty off 36 deliveries while Mandeep Singh also looked confident. Krunal Pandya struck to dismiss Mandeep Singh. Mandeep and Anmolpreet Singh added 62 runs for the 3rd wicket.
Anmolpreet Singh and Nehal Wadhera played with an attacking mindset that put enough pressure on Baroda bowlers. Anmolpreet Singh completed his century off 58 deliveries while Wadhera reached half-century off 23 deliveries. It was a brilliant display as Punjab made 223 for 4 in 20 overs. Anmolpreet scored 113 off 61 deliveries and put on 138 runs for the 4th wicket.
Chasing down 224 runs to win, Baroda lost an early wicket of Jyotsnil Singh cheaply. Ninad Rathva showed intent on keeping the pressure on Punjab bowlers along with Abhimanyusingh Rajput. At the end of the first six overs, Baroda raced away to 64 for 1.
After the field restrictions, Rajput completed fifty off 36 balls and kept Baroda on track. Markande got the breakthrough dismissing Rathva stumped. Rajput and Rathva added 71 runs for the 2nd wicket.
Krunal Pandya came to the crease and kept the momentum going for Baroda. Rajput and Krunal Pandya played with intent keeping pressure on Punjab bowlers. Arshdeep Singh eventually got the breakthrough dismissing Rajput. Rajput and Krunal added 88 runs for the 3rd wicket. Arshdeep Singh made the difference picking wickets at regular intervals to restrict Baroda to 203 for 7. Arshdeep was the pick of bowlers with 4 for 23.
Punjab’s Journey in SMAT 2023/24
Punjab finished as the table topper of Group C comprising Saurashtra, Gujarat, Railways, Goa, Andhra Pradesh, Manipur, and Arunachal Pradesh. By virtue of finishing first, they progressed into the quarterfinals directly.
The quarterfinals saw Punjab face Uttar Pradesh at PCA Stadium, Mohali. It was a closely fought encounter as UP made 169 for 3 in 20 overs while Punjab chased down the target with 5 balls to spare and 5 wickets remaining.
Punjab produced another brilliant performance with 6 6-wicket win over Delhi in Semi-finals 1. Delhi posted 183 for 7 in 20 overs while Punjab chased down with 8 balls to spare and 6 wickets remaining.
Abhishek Sharma finished as the leading run scorer for Punjab with 485 runs from 10 matches ( 10 innings) including 2 centuries and 3 half-centuries including the best score of 112. Anmolpreet Singh made 355 runs from 10 matches (9 innings) including 1 century and 1 half-century with the best score of 113 in the finals.
The experienced Siddarth Kaul finished as the leading wicket-taker in this tournament with 16 wickets from 10 matches ( 10 innings) at an economy of 9.17 runs per over and figures of 3 for 27. The left-arm spinner Harpreet Brar took 15 wickets from 10 matches ( 10 innings) at an economy of 7.13 runs per over and figures of 4 for 18.