New Delhi: One of the most enthusiastic teams of the Toyota University Cricket Championship simply failed to live up to its reputation. Western Wizards Jiwaji University, Gwalior lost their semifinal clash against hosts Kent Northern Stars Jamia Millia Islamia on Thursday evening by 10 wickets. Jamia needed all of 51 balls to race to an emphatic victory after Jiwaji were all out for 61 runs in 18.1 overs. This was the lowest team score of the championship.
A team that has always defended low totals, Jiwaji did not have enough on the board. The Jamia openers were under no pressure and backed by a packed home crowd, Amit Verma and Shivam Sharma milked the Gwalior attack and scored the required runs with ease. Shivam was in punishing mood. He struck five fours and a six in a 36-ball 43 that ended the match as a contest. He got the best batsman's award.
As has been his wont, Jiwaji skipper Sohraab Dhaliwal tried every trick in his book and could even have caught and bowled Shivam when he was on 7. But it was not Gwalior's evening. Earlier, Jiwaji's batting performance definitely came as a big surprise.
The semifinal turned out to be an anti-climax of sorts as the Gwalior boys went down like a pack of cards, with the highest partnership worth only a 19 runs. The slide started early with Jamia's main seamers Abhay Negi and Aashish Chopra removing both the in-form openers with just two runs on the board. The movement and pace on a hard wicket caught the Gwalior boys by surprise as Jamia's fielding backed the bowlers to the hilt. Shivam took two wonderful catches at slips.
The departure of the tournament's best all-rounders, Prashant Mavai and skipper Dhaliwal, only added to Jiwaji's problems. In all three matches leading up to the semifinals, Mavai and Dhaliwal played key roles, but on Thursday night, they both failed to come good. Poor choice of strokes and stage fright got the better of most Jiwaji batsmen as Mavai was leg before wicket to left-arm spinner and Man of the Match Deepak Sharma for 5. Dhaliwal suffered the same fate against Jamia's second left-arm spinner Anuj Chaudhary for 12.
Ashish Savita was Gwalior's top scorer with 21. He hit the first four of the innings in the 26th ball and smashed the first six of the Jiwaji innings. But that enterprise was short-lived as Savita became one Sharma's four victims. Sharma was also the Bowler of the Match for his 4 for 16.