Mumbai: The script went as expected. Western Wolves Mumbai University annihilated Jaypee Cement Eastern Tigers APS University, Rewa by 151 runs to finish No. 2 in group B and clinch the last semifinal berth of the Toyota University Cricket Championship. Mumbai now run into Jain University, Bengaluru in the second semifinal of the tournament here on Friday. It will be a repeat of the Rohinton Baria final that Bengaluru won in Manipal earlier this year.
In the first semifinal on Thursday, group B champions Kent RO Northern Stars Jamia Millia University will take on group A runners-up Western Wizards Jiwaji University, Gwalior in New Delhi.
Rewa were simply buried by the mountain of runs that Mumbai scored on Wednesday evening. Needing to score an improbable 225 for a victory, the Tigers were never in the chase even after skipper Naveen Tiwari promoted himself as an opener. Seamer Prateek Dabholkar (three wickets for 7 runs) removed both openers cheaply and the floodgates opened soon after. Rewa managed all of 73 for nine in their 20 overs.
Poor shot selection and a lack of application was clearly evident in the Rewa batsmen as they lost half their side with only 42 on the board in the 10th over. The procession continued as the lower middle order and the tail caved in without a fight as leg-spinner Sagar Gorivale finished with 3 for 30 off four overs. In terms of runs, Mumbai's win was the biggest of the championship so far. Jain University had beaten VBS Purvanchal University, Jaunpur by 130 runs in the second match of the TUCC.
Irrespective of the quality of opposition, Mumbai did well in all three departments. Although the bowling wasn't challenged enough, Mumbai fielded well with Shashank Singh's leaping catch at point and Dhaval Panchal's diving attempt at square leg two world-class efforts on the park.
Mumbai's batting, of course, was a record effort. A 121-run second wicket partnership between Kevin D'Almeida and Shashank Singh helped Mumbai University amass a record 224 for four wickets. The star on Wednesday evening was Almeida (117 not out off 63 balls), who scored the third century of the championship as Mumbai scored the highest total of the tournament, surpassing Jain University, Bengaluru's 198 for three against Jaunpur.
Almeida, who helped Mumbai edge out Madras in a last-ball thriller at the Brabourne Stadium on Monday, carried on where he had left and started timing the ball from the very first ball. The left-handed opener, of course, rode his luck when he was dropped on 20 and again, seven runs shy of his 60-ball century.
That apart, Almeida played sensibly and took advantage of a batting track after Mumbai won the toss and decided to bat. The home team was off to a breezy start with both Almeida and Akhil Rajput chancing their arm against the Rewa medium pacers. Rajput, the son of former Indian batsman Lalchand Rajput, was dropped on zero but could not score beyond 9 runs.
The Almeida-Singh partnership was impressive. Against some listless bowling, the two hammered the ball all over the park with Singh racing to a 31-ball 50, with two fours and four sixes. Almeida loved to play second fiddle as he wanted to bat the entire 20 overs and was ultimately successful. Singh was out for 60 (off 37 balls) and as long he was around, he impressed with his timing and application.
Rewa bowlers just went through their overs and a 200-plus total was always on the cards. Almeida, dropped on 93, raced to his century with a six and celebrated that with two successive sixes and a four as pacer Anil Singh conceded 25 runs in the last over of the Mumbai innings. It very much summed up the motivation the Rewa boys had for what finally turned out to be a horribly one-sided contest.