Gwalior: Northern Stallions Aligarh Muslim University kept their hopes alive for a semifinal berth in the Toyota University Cricket Championship with a five-wicket win against Eastern Eagles VBS Purvanchal University, Jaunpur in a group A match at the Captain Roop Singh Stadium here on Sunday night. The Jaunpur boys return empty handed after losing all their three league games.
After their first win in two matches, Aligarh are level on points with Jiwaji University, Gwalior (also one win from two matches). Aligarh and Jiwaji clash on Tuesday in Gwalior and the winner will make the last-four stage of the tournament. Unbeaten in three games, Jain University Bengaluru were the first to make the semifinals from group A.
A 19-ball 29-run sixth wicket stand between Taha Ali and Rehan Aziz helped Aligarh cruise past the winning target of 136. But it was a 42-ball 48 by Yasir Kaleem that helped the Stallions build the platform for a much-needed victory. Aligarh (139/5) won with three balls to spare but only after surviving anxious moments when Kaleem was caught brilliantly by Raj Srivastava (15th over) Danish Ali exited in the 16th and Vipin Kumar (17) was bowled by Pradeep Jaiswal in the 17th over.
Earlier, Man of the Match Praveen Dubey struck the second century of the Toyota University Cricket Championship as his unbeaten 104 off 61 balls was the centerpiece of the Jaunpur innings. Batting first, Jaunpur managed 136 for 6 wickets but only after Dubey's heroics.
Dubey, who scored an unbeaten 62 against Jiwaji University, Gwalior on Saturday, was on top of his game once again as the 20-year-old showed flair on a Roop Singh Stadium batting deck. Jaunpur could have posted a more challenging total but a batting collapse saw the Eagles losing three wickets in a space of six balls.
Aligarh pacer Ravindra Singh (2/13) was on a hattrick in the 16th over of the Jaunpur innings but some late charge by Dubey changed the complexion of the Jaunpur innings. Dubey was the lone man standing for Jaunpur. He carried on from where he left on Saturday and played classy strokes on both sides of the wicket.
Dubey raced to his second fifty of the tournament off 32 balls and reached a deserving century with a lovely flick that fetched him his 14th boundary. Dubey also hit a six, but it was his poise under pressure that was noteworthy. He certainly is a find of the tournament and Jaunpur could have done better if the other top order batsmen showed even half the temperament Dubey showed on back-to-back days.
Needing nine off the last over, the century came in dramatic fashion. Dubey had a run deducted for not grounding his bat after taking a two in third ball of the 19th over. He didn't want to miss on the landmark and with 2 balls remaining, Mansur Ahmad fed him on legs and Dubey flicked him promptly to race from 98 to a brilliant 102!