Tamil Nadu all-rounder Shahrukh Khan struck a match-winning cameo of 56 down the order against a strong Gujarat attack to help Tamil Nadu seal a place in the Vijay Hazare Trophy final. The 2016/17 champions will now take on their South counterparts Karnataka in the final in Bengaluru on Friday.
Brief scores: Tamil Nadu 181-5 (Shahrukh Khan 56* and Karan Patel 1/18) beat Gujarat 177-9 (Dhruv Raval 40 and M Mohammed 3/23) by 5 wickets.
After a wet outfield delayed proceedings on Wednesday, Tamil Nadu won the toss and bowled first on a tricky wicket against Gujarat in a match that was subsequently reduced to a 40-over contest. Spin twins Washington Sundar and Ravichandran Ashwin both struck within the first five overs to send openers Priyank Panchal (3) and Parthiv Patel (13) packing, leaving Gujarat in a spot of bother at 16/2.
Bhargav Merai (20) and Dhruv Raval (40) then put on a compelling 53-run stand to steady ship for Gujarat before M Mohammed (3/23) ran through the middle-order to reduce the Parthiv-led side to 102/6. Late cameos from Axar Patel (37) and Chintan Gaja (24) took Gujarat's score to 177 in their quota of 40 overs, but at no point did it feel like it was enough.
In response, Tamil Nadu got off to the worst start possible, losing opener Murali Vijay (3) and the man in form Baba Aparajith (6) in quick succession. Abhinav Mukund (32) and skipper Dinesh Karthik (47) then helped TN in their path to recovery, but a mini mildde-order collapse reduced them to 96/5, putting them in danger of messing up a relatively easy chase. But just when Gujarat looked like they were in control, youngsters Sundar (27*) and Shahrukh Khan (56*) delivered the killer blow, putting on an unbeaten 81-run stand to help their team get over the line with an over to spare.
This result now means that Tamil Nadu will take on Karnataka in a highly anticipated final at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru on Friday, aiming to repeat their heroics from 2016.
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