On a day when the on-field proceedings were dictated by calculators, Gujarat posted a surprise 90-run win over Kerala to sneak through to the Airtel Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament final at the latter’s expense.

Parthiv Patel’s side will meet group B winner Punjab in the summit clash after its massive victory on Thursday pushed its net run-rate above that of Kerala.

While the Emerald Heights School pitch has generally produced high scores in this tournament’s group A matches, Gujarat posted a total which exceeded the par score significantly. A 202-run blitzkrieg partnership in 94 balls by centurion Manprit Juneja and Abdulahad Malek took the team to an imposing 233.

Needing 167 to qualify for the final, Kerala began strongly and was well-placed at 79 for two in the ninth over. However, three quick wickets and a run-out by Jesal Karia halted the opposition’s progress and it was eventually bowled out for 143. While the NRR didn’t play a similarly crucial role in group B, Punjab’s progress to the final was not confirmed until Baroda crossed 51 in its reply to Karnataka’s 167 later on Saturday. As it turned out, the South side failed to prevent defeat as Aditya Waghmode’s team chased down the target with a ball left.

In the morning, Punjab had boosted its chances considerably by claiming a 51-run win over fellow contender Uttar Pradesh.

The story would have been much different, however, if Gurkeerat Singh had not been dropped by R.P. Singh in the fifth over when he was on 16. The Punjab batsman took full advantage as he went on to make an unbeaten 93 off 58 balls, which included six sixes.

Faced with the task of chasing 162 and improving its inferior NRR, UP crumbled under pressure and could only manage 14 in the first five overs for the loss of two wickets. Despite minor resistance by Mohammad Kaif and Piyush Chawla, the poor start ensured that Punjab remained in firm control, and thanks to a Rahul Sharma hat-trick, the opposition was shot out for 110.

The final will begin at 10 a.m. on Sunday.

The scores: Group A: Gujarat 233 for three in 20 overs (Manprit Juneja 108 n.o., Abdulahad Malek 84 n.o.) bt Kerala 143 in 19.1 overs (V.A. Jagadeesh 36, Sanju Viswanadh 32, Raiphi Gomez 26, Mehul Patel three for 36, Jesal Karia three for 15). Points: Gujarat 4 (12), Kerala 0 (12).

Delhi 156 for seven in 20 overs (Mohit Sharma 45, Milind Kumar 43 n.o.) lost to Vidarbha 157 for five in 19 overs (Faiz Fazal 50, Urvesh Patel 34, Shalabh Shrivastava 26 n.o., Manan Sharma three for 32). Vidarbha 4 (8), Delhi 0 (4).

Group B: Punjab 161 for five in 20 overs (Gurkeerat Singh 93 n.o.) bt Uttar Pradesh 110 in 16.4 overs (Mohammad Kaif 46, Piyush Chawla 29, Rahul Sharma four for 34). Punjab 4 (12), UP 0 (8).

Karnataka 167 in 20 overs (Robin Uthappa 49, Manish Pandey 29, Bhargav Bhatt three for 31, Krunal Pandya three for 25) lost to Baroda 169 for five in 19.5 overs (Jyot Chhaya 63, Vishnu Solanki 54 n.o.). Baroda 4 (4), Karnataka 0 (8).

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