Shillong, February 11: In a hugely significant achievement, Meghalaya today qualified for the final of the Ranji Trophy 2023-24 Plate Group and, with it, have also secured a place in next season’s Elite Group.Meghalaya beat Mizoram in their plate semifinal today morning in Mangaldai, Assam, by six wickets, having required just 28 more runs to win. Chasing 153 for victory, Meghalaya ended play yesterday on 125/4 in their second innings, with captain Kishan Lyngdoh (34 not out) and Jaskirat Singh Sachdeva (19 not out) at the crease.Kishan and Jaskirat saw out the remaining runs in around half an hour this morning. Captain Kishan got his fourth half-century of the Ranji season, finishing the match unbeaten on 53, while Jaskirat was not out on 31.

To recap, Mizoram batted first and made 144, to which Meghalaya responded with 145. Mizoram were then dismissed for 153 in their second innings. Aryan Borah and Akash Kumar Choudhury were brilliant with the ball for Meghalaya, bagging 10/107 and 8/69 respectively and Aryan was named Player of the Match, his second award in a row.Senior members of the Meghalaya Cricket Association showered praise on the players and support staff for their proud achievement.

“Congratulations to our Ranji squad for qualifying for the Elite Group and playing in the final of the Plate Group. It was a tough decision on including guest players,” MCA President Nababrata Bhattacharjee said, referring to the historic move not to rely on any guest players for the first-class tournament. “Finally, it was about reposing confidence and trust in our home grown players and they have delivered by qualifying for the Elite Group. Kishan Lyngdoh, our captain, has drawn national attention with his performance.

“The state had a brief tryst with the elite level Ranji Trophy in 2021-22 but that season was curtailed due to the Covid-19 pandemic and Meghalaya only played three matches that year. Back then there was also no semifinal or final in the Plate Group.

“The win today over Mizoram is significant in the history of cricket in the state as, for the first time, we will be playing in the plate finals and, more so, for qualifying for the Elite group of the Ranji Trophy next season,” MCA Honorary Secretary Gideon Kharkongor said. “We are proud that the U-16 and U-19 men’s teams have already qualified for next season’s respective Elite Groups and we hope we make it four with the ongoing U-23 Col CK Nayudu Trophy where we stand a good chance to win. This will boost the cricket ante in the state.

“MCA Treasurer Dhrubajyoti Thakuria also sent his best wishes to the senior men’s team, saying, “I wish to congratulate the players and support staff of the senior men Ranji Trophy team for an excellent display of courage and confidence to make it all the way to the final. This will be recorded in the history of the Meghalaya Cricket Association and will be remembered for years to come. Wishing all the very best for the grand finale to everyone.

“Meghalaya will play Hyderabad in the final from 17 February at a venue to be decided. In the round robin stage, Hyderabad had won in Shillong by an innings and 81 runs.