KNOWN for his big-hitting ability, Vidarbha’s top-order batsman Apoorv Wankhade, who has been getting decent starts in the tournament but could not really encash those, made this one on Saturday count as his blistering knock helped Vidarbha derail Railways in their last Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy (SMAT) league game at Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Rajkot.
The lanky right-hander hit five fours and sent as many over the ropes remaining unbeaten for his 71 that came off 42 balls as Vidarbha overhauled Railways’ 150-5 by making 153-4 in 18.2 overs. Vidarbha finished second behind Group A toppers Mumbai and will travel to Kolkata for their pre-quarter-finals against Chhattisgarh scheduled to be played on October 30. Vidarbha elected to field first and seamer Yash Thakur, coming as first change, give the team the first breakthrough. He forced Pratham Singh to nick one to wicketkeeper Jitesh Sharma.
But the pair of opener Shivam Chaudhary (84*; 58b, 8x4, 2x6) and new man Vivek Singh (26; 23b, 1x4, 2x6) did not shy away and took the score from 22 to 66. It was Thakur who, once again, came to Vidarbha’s rescue cleaning up Singh.
Aditya Sarvate, who came as an Impact Player for Akshay Wakhare, really made an impact taking two wickets in his two overs conceding just eight runs. Darshan Nalkande picked one as Railways were stopped at a below par score.
Vidarbha had a bad start to the chase as their top run accumulator till skipper Akshay Wadkar and Aman Mokhade returned with score reading 2-20 in 3.5 overs. Wankhade joined southpaw vice-captain Atharva Taide (31; 28b, 3x4) and took the score past fifty when Taide got out. Another big-hitter Shubham Dubey and Wankhade scored at a brisk pace adding 84 runs in 8.4 overs. Both Dubey and Wankhade matched each other stroke for stroke as their team-mates enjoyed the fireworks from the dug-out.
With eleven needed, Dubey perished but Wankhade sealed victory with a big shot. Jitesh Sharma (3*) was the other not out batter.