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Balaji helps TN make Ranji final

New Delhi: L. Balaji helped Tamil Nadu reach the Ranji Trophy final with a five-wicket haul at the Kotla Tuesday. Tamil Nadu recorded a convincing 132-run win over Delhi on the final day.

Balaji virtually put the issue beyond Delhi in his third over of the morning, getting rid of overnight batsman Virender Sehwag with a perfect in-cutter that uprooted the dashing batsman’s leg-stump.

Sehwag, who was playing a wonderful knock on Monday — unbeaten on 98 — was unlucky to miss his century by just one run as he was castled for 99. Balaji, who is having a dream run with the ball this season, finished with five for 49.

Sehwag’s dismissal in the 41st over put paid to Delhi’s slender hopes. Chasing a target of 333, they were bowled out for 200.

In the final, Tamil Nadu will meet Mumbai, who inflicted an innings defeat on Baroda in the other semi-final on Saturday.

This was the seventh five-wicket haul in an innings for the 22-year-old Balaji this Ranji season. He has so far scalped 44 wickets from only six matches. His tally, which has come at a very good average of 12.75, also includes three ten-wicket match hauls.

But for missed chances, the lanky fast bowler could have bagged a couple of more wickets in Delhi’s second innings, which lasted only 67 minutes this morning. S. Sriram dropped Sarandeep Singh at point when the batsman was yet to open his account.

BRIEF SCORES

Tamil Nadu 327 & 261; Delhi 256 & 200 (Virender Sehwag 99; L. Balaji 5/49, S. Suresh 2/40, Sivaramakrishnan 2/42). Tamil Nadu won by 132 runs. (PTI)

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