Mohali, Nov 6 (PTI) Ton-up Anmolpreet Singh dished out an unbelievable exhibition of power-hitting before India seamer Arshdeep Singh used all his experience to power Punjab to their maiden title triumph in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy T20 tournament with a 20-run win over Baroda here on Monday.
Anmolpreet blazed away to 113 off 61 balls while Nehal Wadhera smashed 61 in 27 deliveries to propel Punjab to an imposing 223 for 4 in the allotted 20 overs.
In reply, Baroda were stopped at 203 for 7, thanks largely to left-arm seamer Arshdeep (4/23), who picked up three wickets in the decisive 19th over to seal the issue in his team's favour.
Punjab struck nine sixes and three fours off the last 21 balls and racked up 143 runs in the back 10, which proved to be the deciding factor in the end, besides Arshdeep's exploits with the ball.
Punjab opted to bat first after winning the toss as the idea was to put up a big score and put the opposition under pressure in the final.
It worked beautifully for Punjab as the four-time finalists found their man in Anmolpreet, who raced to his hundred in only 58 balls at the PCA Stadium that wore a deserted look despite hosting a final of the premier domestic tournament.
Baroda enjoyed a dream start to the final as Soyeb Sopariya dismissed in-form opener Abhishek Sharma in the very first ball of the match, the ball moving away from middle and leg and the batter did not fully commit himself to the shot to end up hitting the ball towards extra cover where Jyotsnil Singh completed a brilliant catch.
Eyeing their maiden title, Punjab were 18 for two when Prabhsimran fell to Atit Sheth who produced an excellent delivery right after being hit for a six over long-off.
Having nicked one that swung late, Prabhsimran wasted a review for Punjab before making his way back to the dressing room.
A partnership ensued between Anmolpreet and skipper Mandeep Singh, who moved to a 23-ball 32 with a flurry of boundaries before his Baroda counterpart Krunal Pandya cut short his stay in the middle.
Having got his runs without taking any risks, Mandeep attempted a needless reverse sweep to bring about his own dismissal.
Mandeep's departure at 80 for 3 brought together Anmolpreet and Wadhera, and the duo went about rebuilding the Punjab innings, which paved the way for them to post a challenging total.
After getting their eye in, both Anmolpreet and Wadhera started finding fours and sixes with consummate ease, and put the pressure back on the Baroda attack that kept Punjab to 80 in the first 10 overs.
Runs came in from all directions in the back 10 as Punjab went into the innings break confident of claiming their first title in the T20 tournament after four failed attempts.
Seasoned pacer Siddarth Kaul raised Punjab's hopes further when he dismissed Jyotsnil Singh cheaply in the second over of Baroda innings.
Ninad Rathva struck a breezy 47 off 22 balls, and was involved in a second wicket stand of 71 runs with Abhimanyusingh Rajput (61 off 42 balls), which came in quick time to keep Baroda in the hunt.
Mayank Markande broke the association when he had Rathva stumped after the ball skidded off the pitch without any turn.
Another fruitful partnership followed as Rajput and Krunal added 88 runs for the third wicket, but by the time the former was dismissed by Arshdeep at 164 for 3 in the 17th over, the asking rate had climbed too much for Baroda to mount a comeback.
Not willing to give up without a fight, Krunal continued to take on the bowlers and found an able ally in Vishnu Solanki, who started dealing in boundaries without wasting any time.
But that could not do the job for Baroda as they lost Krunal, Shivalik Sharma and Bhanu Pania to Arshdeep, who bowled an excellent penultimate over.
This was the fifth final for both Baroda and Punjab, the most for any team in the tournament.
The two teams had met in the 2011-12 final, when Baroda beat Punjab for the first of their two titles.
Brief Scores: Punjab 223 for 4 in 20 overs (Anmolpreet Singh 113, Nehal Wadhera 61 not out; Krunal Pandya 1/30) beat Baroda 203 for 7 in 20 overs (Abhimanyusingh Rajput 61, Ninad Rathva 47, Krunal Pandya 45; Arshdeep Singh 4/23) by 20 runs. PTI AH SSC SSC