Tamil Nadu held its nerve, thanks primarily to a sensible knock by Vijay Shankar, as it recorded a thrilling four-wicket victory in the last over against Delhi in the three-day final of the Coromandel King All India Moin-ud-Dowla Gold Cup invitation tournament at Rajiv Gandhi Stadium here on Sunday.
Delhi, which took a first innings lead of 22 runs, set a target of 190 for Tamil Nadu in 40 overs in the second innings on the final day.
Opener Athiraj Shandilya and K.B. Arun Karthick were sent back by medium-pacer Parvinder Awana as Tamil Nadu was reduced to 20 for two in 5.5 overs.
The focus then shifted to the talented B. Aparajith. For the second time in the match, he was up against a fiery Ishant Sharma, and was clearly uncomfortable. To his credit, Aparajith regained his composure and went on to play an impressive knock. As the innings progressed, the strokes flowed from his willow, and a six each off left-arm spinner Vikas Misra and left-arm fast bowler Pradeep Sangwan bore the stamp of authority and class.
Just when he looked like guiding the team home on his own, Aparajith (72, 85b, 3x4, 2x6) fell to Ishant, who took another wicket with his next ball to raise Delhi’s hopes of a victory — the rivals needing 38 runs off the last five overs.
Ironically, it was Ishant who later turned out to be most expensive when he was hit for 25 runs in 2.1 overs when the chase was on. Vijay Shankar was at ease, playing with calmness and assurance under pressure. He shared what turned out to be a match-winning unbeaten 47-run stand for the seventh wicket off just 33 balls with wicketkeeper-batsman Rohit (13 not out). Quite fittingly, it was Vijay (39 not out, 38b, 4x4) who clipped Ishant past mid-wicket for the winning boundary to trigger celebrations in his camp.
Earlier, Delhi’s batting was jolted early by a lively pace attack of Aswin Christ and Mohammed S. Mohammed, which reduced them to 16 for three at one stage. However, the fluent Milind Kumar (41, 64b, 5x4) and Punit Bist (30, 29b, 3x4) later propped up the total. .
Mr. G. Vinod, president of HCA, gave away the prizes.
The scores: Delhi 265 & 167 in 39.5 overs (Milind Kumar 41, Punit Bist 30, Aswin Christ three for 37, Mohammed three for 43, M. Ashwin three for 53) lost to Tamil Nadu 243 & 191 for six in 39.2 overs (B. Aparajith 72, Vijay Shankar 39 n.o., Ishant Sharma three for 46).