The stage was set for the semifinals and the final of the Delhi leg of Dainik Bhaskar Agency and Media Cricket League (AMCL) 2010. The venue, for the first time, was Harbaksh Stadium, where a lush green outfield and a perfect batting strip awaited the players.
In the first semifinal, top favourite, Advert Communications took on Lintas.
Rishabh ran some hard singles with partner Ashish Ranjan, and the duo converted singles into doubles with some agile running.
After the initial two overs when he was looking for quick singles, Rishabh exploded with a huge six over square leg and didn't look back.
Advert raised their 50 in the fourth over itself. Trying to innovate a stroke on the leg side off Vivek, Rishabh was bowled, but not before he had gathered 59 off 28 balls (5x4, 2x6).
By then, Advert had got the platform they needed. Ashish (35 runs off 20 balls, 4x4, 1x6) and Sunny (24 runs off 12 balls, 1x4, 1x6), with their fine cameo, brought the total to 126 for 1 in the stipulated 10 overs.
Chasing a huge target of 127, Lintas openers, Vivek and Damodaran began in earnest. Damodaran clipped Lokesh for a boundary at fine third man, but the bowler had the last laugh, when he trapped Damodaran leg before on the very next ball.
Soon, runs dried up for Lintas in the face of some tight bowling.
Halfway into the match, Lintas had put just 29 on the board. It soon turned out to be a no-contest, as boundaries were hard to come by. Lintas finished 37 runs short of the target, and Advert Communications marched into the finals.
The second semifinal was between MPG and giant killers, Studio Thorn.
MPG batted first and a good contest between bat and ball ensued in the first 30 minutes. Experienced openers, Anuj and Harish had to use all their skills against very spirited bowling from Studio Thorn.
Harish was caught by Bharat trying to up the ante for 23 off 11 balls with a four and a six. Bharat got rid of Ronny in the next over, with a brilliant caught and bowled effort. Some late order hitting by Anuj (24 runs off 27 balls, 1x4) and Kailash (24 runs off 15 balls, 2x4, 1x6) helped MPG set a fighting total of in 78 in 10 overs.
Studio Thorn began well, gathering 10 runs in the first over. But Ravin Rao was brilliantly stumped in Anuj's over.
Karan got rid of danger man Zia for 9, and Pradeep Tokas cleaned up skipper Prannoy to send spirits soaring for MPG. Halfway into the match, Studio Thorn was 40 for 3, needing another 39 in 30 balls. Studio Thorn played calmly, not taking any unnecessary risk, and picked up quick singles and twos.
Amit Tyagi (38 runs off 25 balls, 5x4) and Usheer Mohan (18 runs off 12 balls, 2x4) guided Studio Thorn to a well deserved victory and a place in the finals.
The stage was set for the big match - the final of Dainik Bhaskar AMCL 2010. Strong favourite, Advert Communications faced the dark horse, Studio Thorn.
Studio Thorn won the toss and decided to field first. They had to face the stiff test of in-form openers, Rishabh Sharma and Ashish Ranjan.
Rishabh was once again merciless, displaying his wide array of shots right from the beginning. The opening duo brought the total to 50 in the fourth over itself. It seemed as if Advert Communications was eying a record score, when Rishabh was tragically run out just one short of his 50. But Sunny displayed some fine strokes, scoring 37 (17 balls, 4x4, 2x6) and taking Advert to an imposing total of 138 in 10 overs.
Studio Thorn needed to score at 14 an over to chase 139, but their innings could not really take off. Some superb left arm seam bowling from Ravish Lohia ensured that the cream of Studio Thorn's batting was back in the pavilion without putting too many runs on the board. Bowling at good length with the balls coming in, Ravish castled 4 batsmen, all clean bowled in the same fashion.
At the end of the fifth over, Studio Thorn was 42 for 3, and could never recover from the early losses. They ended up at 75 for 4 in 10 overs. Thus, Advert Communications won the Delhi leg of Dainik Bhaskar AMCL 2010 by 63 runs. It will now play the Mumbai winner for the national finals on February 14.
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Dainik Bhaskar AMCL-2010 is being supported by associate sponsors including Open Media, STAR News and All Sports Magazine. Radio partner for the cricket tournament is Red FM and outdoor partner is Bright Outdoor Media. Online support to the AMCL-2010 has been extended by Cricketnirvana.com.