Amid mounting tension and excitement, Pradeep Sangwan unleashed a last-ball six off Joginder Sharma to script Delhi's thrilling three-wicket triumph over Haryana in the North zone twenty20 league at the Palam ground on Sunday.
In this key match between the two previously unbeaten teams, Sangwan walked in to bat with Delhi needing 12 runs off five deliveries. He took eight runs, including a boundary, off the next four deliveries and then hit a six over midwicket to trigger off celebrations among the Delhi teammates and officials.
Delhi's fourth successive victory placed it on top of the league table with 16 points, four more than Haryana and Services.
In fact, after stunning Himachal Pradesh in a rain-affected match on Friday, Services pulled off a stunning victory over an off-form Punjab on this day. In another match, Himachal expectedly thrashed Jammu and Kashmir by 56 runs.
On Monday, in the last set of matches, Delhi takes on Services and Himachal faces Haryana to decide on the two qualifying spots for the knockout phase of the competition. Punjab meets J&K in an inconsequential match.
Haryana almost humbled Delhi even after setting a target of 147. Sunny Singh, dropped thrice in his 48-ball 74 and Mukesh Dagar (35) put on 61 runs for the second wicket. Later, Sunny and Dhruv Singh raised another 45 runs for 33 deliveries to prop up the innings.
Delhi, which had fielded poorly, seemed to have made amends through its top-order batting by reaching 77 for one in the 11th over. But the dismissals of Chetan Sharma, Mithun Manhas, Puneet Mehra and Ankur Jhulka for the addition of just 25 runs brought Haryana back in the match.
With the experienced Rajat Bhatia finding it difficult to get the big hits, the pressure remained on Delhi until Yogesh Nagar hit a six and two boundaries in his 13-ball 15. The fall of Nagar and Joginder Singh in the space of four deliveries brought in Sangwan who provided the finishing touches in great style.
A little earlier, Services left Punjab stunned after the latter looked well in sight of an expected victory.
Chasing Punjab's 133, Services was struggling at 79 for seven in 16 overs. But Ritesh Negi (40, 1x6, 4x4) and Narendra Kumar (25 not out, 1x6 six, 2x4) raised 50 runs off 32 deliveries for the eighth wicket to set up a memorable triumph.
The 18th over bowled by Karan Goel produced 18 runs and the next from Bipul Sharma went for 20 before Services went on to win with a delivery to spare.
The scores: Haryana 146 for six in 20 overs (Sunny Singh 74, Mukesh Dagar 35, Dhruv Singh 19) lost to Delhi 149 for seven in 20 overs (Chetan Sharma 39, Rajat Bhatia 39, Yogesh Nagar 22, Amit Mishra two for 27, Hemang Badani two for 34).
Punjab 133 in 20 overs (Sarul Kanwar 49, Manpreet Gony 29, Amrendra Singh five for 21, Amit Kumar three for 11, Yashpal Singh two for 14) lost to Services 134 for eight in 19.5 overs (Ritesh Negi 40, Narender Kumar 24, Bipul Sharma four for 28, Navdeep Singh two for 20).
Himachal Pradesh 147 for four in 20 overs (Sangram Singh 57, M.S. Bisla 57, Samiullah Beigh three for 22) bt Jammu and Kashmir 91 for seven in 20 (Ian Dev Singh 37, S. K. Kumar 19, Kunal Dewan two for six, Ashok Thakur two for nine, M.S. Sharma two for 21). — Special Correspondent