Bengaluru: Pawan Negi, batting at number nine, scored an unbeaten 39 under intense pressure, helping Delhi pull-off a thrilling two-wicket win over Jharkhand in the second semifinal of the Vijay Hazare Trophy here on Thursday.
Chasing 200, Delhi were down and out at 149 for eight in the 38th over before Negi and Navdeep Saini (13 not out off 38) batted for almost 12 overs, sharing a match-winning 51-run stand for the ninth wicket.
Pacer Saini was deservingly named man of the match as he gave the much-needed support to Negi in the tense run chase after taking four wickets that limited Jharkhand to 199 all out in 48.5 overs.
MS Dhoni’s absence was dearly felt as Ishan Kishan-led Jharkhand failed to overcome their nerves. Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh agreed that the presence of the veteran wicket-keeper batsman could have made a huge difference for Jharkhand.
“Congrats captain @GautamGambhir and Team Delhi for reaching #VijayHazare finals. Well done #pawanNegi But who knows @msdhoni presence could have been the difference. Team Jharkhand must have missed him today @BCCIdomestic,” he wrote on Twitter.
Congrats captain @GautamGambhir and Team Delhi for reaching #VijayHazare finals. Well done #pawanNegi But who knows @msdhoni presence could have been the difference .Team Jharkhand must have missed him today @BCCIdomestic— Harbhajan Turbanator (@harbhajan_singh) October 18, 2018
Delhi, who have won the tournament once, meet the mighty Mumbai in the final on Saturday.
The national selection committee was left deeply embarrassed after Mahendra Singh Dhoni earlier declined to play Vijay Hazare Trophy quarter-finals for Jharkhand despite chairman MSK Prasad's public announcement.
The current fiasco now completely established that there is no communication between the selectors and senior players, who decide their own schedule.
Dhoni, who has been horribly out of touch as a batsman during the past two years, was expected to be a part of Jharkhand's quarter-final against Maharashtra.
But on Saturday, Jharkhand chief coach Rajiv Kumar told reporters in Bengaluru that Dhoni has decided against playing the quarter-final, contrary to what chief national selector had earlier announced.
"Dhoni feels that it would not be fair for him to join us at this stage, given that the team has done so well and reached the quarter-final stage in his absence. He does not want to upset the team balance," Jharkhand coach Kumar said.
Since he has only played 22 days of international cricket this year (15 ODIs, 7 T20Is), Dhoni has looked out of sorts as a batsman, whenever he has come after a long break.
Accordingly, when on last Thursday chairman of selectors Prasad was asked about whether Dhoni and Ambati Rayudu will be playing the Vijay Hazare quarters, he replied: "Dhoni is playing the knock-outs. About Rayudu, I will check and get back."
Jharkhand topped the group league stage with 32 points and Shahbaz Nadeem's was their notable performer with a List A world record haul of 8 for 10....