New Delhi: Captain Sanju Samson and Sachin Baby's brilliant half-centuries helped Kerala qualify for the knockout phase of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy National T20 Championships with an eight-wicket win over Madhya Pradesh (MP) in their final Elite Group D match here on Tuesday.
Though Kerala and MP finished with 12 points from five matches in the six-team Group D, the former advanced to the pre-quarterfinals on head-to-head record. Gujarat topped the group with 16 points and qualified for the quarterfinals. Kerala will take on Himachal Pradesh in the pre-quarterfinals on November 16.
Chasing a stiff target of 172, Kerala romped home in 18 overs. Though openers Rohan Kunnummal (29) and Mohammed Azharuddeen (21) added 58 inside eight overs, the two fell in quick succession. Kerala were 78/2 at the halfway stage.
Sanju (56 not out) and Sachin (51 not out) added 110 for the unbeaten third wicket to take Kerala home. Sanju hit four fours and three sixes off 33 balls, while Sachin scored four fours and three sixes from 27 balls.
Earlier, Rajat Patidar's 77 fired MP to 171/5 after Kerala chose to field. He smashed seven fours and three sixes in his 49-ball knock. Kuldeep Gehi (31) and Parth Sahani (32) too chipped in with cameos.
Spinners S Midhun (1/21) and Jalaj Saxena (1/26) did a fine job for Kerala, while M S Akhil claimed 2/35.