Rishi Dhawan continued to sizzle with the bat in the Vijay Hazare Trophy as his all-round show at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium on Friday helped Himachal Pradesh secure a berth in the final.
Prashant Chopra (78, 109b, 4×4, 3×6) played the anchor while Dhawan (84, 7b, 9×4, 1×6) provided the much-needed acceleration in the business end to bury Services under a mountain of runs. A disciplined effort with the ball — led by Rishi’s four for 27 — was enough for a 77-run win.
During their chase of 282, Services’ top-order batters Ravi Chauhan (45, 70b, 4×4) and Rajat Paliwal (55, 66b, 3×4) eschewed strokeplay for a considerable period to keep wickets in hand for the end, but the strategy did not work. The required run-rate kept climbing and once strokes were attempted, wickets fell and the Services’ resistance ended with 3.5 overs left.
Just as they had done in the quarterfinals, Services seamers kept pegging away in the first 10 overs. Despite beating the bat a few times and drawing out edges and mishits, only one wicket fell in the first hour.
Opener Chopra, however, wasn’t unresponsive during this period, lofting a good-length delivery from left-arm seamer Raj Bahadur Pal for a six through long-off. But despite seeing off the new ball safely, the top order stumbled a bit during the middle overs.
It was only from the 30th over that Chopra, who was content with singles thus far, started to play a few strokes in the company of Dhawan. He brought up his fifty with a six down the ground off Rahul, skipping down the track and teeing off.
He departed in the 41st over trying to accelerate and it was Dhawan who changed the complexion of the game completely. Dhawan and Akash Vashisht (45, 29b, 4×4, 2×6) tore the Services attack to shreds in the business end as they indulged in some lusty hitting.
Dhawan came down the track to seamers numerous times for his strokes. After missing out with the bat in the quarterfinals, he hit a half-century once again — his fifth in seven matches.