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Vijay Merchant Trophy: Meghalaya demolish Nagaland to reach plate group final

Shillong, Dec 28:¬†Meghalaya became the first team to qualify for the U-16 boys’ Vijay Merchant Trophy final by defeating Nagaland by 72 runs in Bhubaneswar on Thursday.
Meghalaya will meet either Manipur or Mizoram in the title match, with their semifinal going into the third day.
Apandanka Marak carried on his incredible form to bag 5/45 in 11 overs as Nagaland were dismissed in their second innings for 92. Apandanka had scalped 6/40 in the first innings to give him combined match figures of 11/85 in what was a brilliant performance for Meghalaya’s go-to opening bowler.
To recap, on Wednesday Meghalaya won the toss and batted first but were all out for 123. They then rolled over Nagaland for 83 and were 22/0 at stumps in their second innings.
On Thursday, Aashish Kumar Lohar hit 57 as Meghalaya improved on their first innings score by just one run to be all out for 124. Aashish also did well the last time out with 34 in Meghalaya’s first innings and he adapted to the conditions the best for a second time. He and Gaurav Jyoti Thakuria (18) put on 57 for the sixth wicket to help the team get out of a difficult position when they were 47/5.
With their 40-run first innings lead, Meghalaya thus set Nagaland 165 to win. Even this modest target was too much of an ask and Nagaland were all out for 92.
Nevertheless, they started the chase pretty well and were perched on 86/3 when a sudden turnaround saw them crash to defeat by losing seven wickets for just six runs in around 5 overs.
Apandanka played his part in ripping through the batting order but Nagaland did not help matters with two run outs and even one dismissal for obstructing the field. The last wicket to fall was claimed by Thakuria (1/2 in 2.4 overs) while Paisal Ali (1/22 in 4) had earlier captured the very first.
Meghalaya will now wait to see who their opponents in the final are to be – Manipur or Mizoram. Meghalaya had beaten the latter in the round robin stage but Manipur are currently in a stronger position going into the last day of their semifinal. Manipur had beaten Meghalaya during the group stage but, buoyed by their fantastic success against Nagaland (whom they had drawn against in the earlier round), Meghalaya would welcome a chance for a rematch.

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