Defending champions Delhi paid the price for resting key players in a must-win match against Services to crash out of the Vijay Hazare Trophy here Thursday. Services and Punjab advanced to the knock-outs from North Zone.
Services hammered Delhi by 44 runs at the Ferozeshah Kotla while Punjab beat Himachal Pradesh by two wickets at Palam Ground to progress as the two teams from the North Zone.
Services scripted a remarkable turnaround from 36 for three in 12.3 overs to post a challenging 257 for five on a typical low and slow wicket. Rajat Paliwal led their fight back with an unbeaten 105 off 112 balls.
A depleted Delhi succumbed to the pressure of chasing the highest score at Kotla in the tournament, ending at 213 all out in 48.2 overs. Jagrit Anand's 69 off 82 could not do the job for the sloppy hosts.
A Services player revealed that Delhi players did not even come for the customary handshake after the game.
Delhi's premier bowlers Ashish Nehra and Ishant Sharma opted out of the crucial match while the experienced Mithun Manhas and Rajat Bhatia sat out owing to injuries.
Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) selection committee chief Chetan Chauhan told IANS that the pacers were rested as part of the rotational policy.
"The team decided to rest Ishant and Ashish, who had played four games in a row. Rajat could not recover from his back problem while Mithun pulled up a hamstring," he added.
Star opening pair of Gautam Gambhir (27) and Unmukt Chand (20) left their team in lurch after getting out in quick succession. The onus was on them to take the team home in the absence of other senior players.
Delhi's innings fell after the fall of in-form Milind Kumar (30) and all-rounder Yogesh Nagar (18) for 151 for five, leaving Anand and the lower-order with a herculean task.
All hopes were dashed when Anand departed to make it 187 for seven in the 44th over.