Central Zone beat star-studded West Zone in Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy opener | cricket | Hindustan Times
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Central Zone beat star-studded West Zone in Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy opener

Central zone, chasing West zone’s target of 61, won by six wickets with 10 balls to spare. Harpreet Singh scored 62 for the winners, while Ambati Rayudu scored 24 for the winners

cricket Updated: Feb 12, 2017 20:35 IST
Bihan Sengupta
Central Zone batsman Harpreet Singh plays a shot against West Zone during the Syed Mustaq Ali Trophy.
Central Zone batsman Harpreet Singh plays a shot against West Zone during the Syed Mustaq Ali Trophy.(PTI)

Harpreet Singh struck a brilliant half-century as Central Zone beat the star-studded West Zone by six wickets in the inaugural match of the revamped Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, here at the Wankhede Stadium on Sunday.

Chasing West Zone’s target of 161, Harpreet (62) was well assisted by Ambati Rayadu (24) and Mahesh Rawat (30*) as the men-in-red chased down the target with 10 balls to spare. Batting first, West Zone were in a precarious situation before Deepak Hooda (49*) and Aditya Tare (40) bailed the side out of trouble.

Electing to field after winning the toss, Central Zone were on a roll as they sent back both the West Zone openers within the first five overs. It was a steady start from the Gujarat duo of captain Parthiv Patel (16) and Priyank Panchal (12) but after a couple of boundaries, both fell to erratic shots.

Shreyas Iyer (7), too, didn’t last long as he chased a wide delivery to gift a sitter to Rawat at short-third man. With momentum clearly not in their favour, Central Zone then lost the experienced pair of Kedar Jadhav (8) and Irfan Pathan (4) in quick succession. Jadhav, who had a terrific run in the ODI series against England, was a bit unlucky after his shot took a bottom edge to hit his thigh pad and go down to the fielder while Pathan was run-out after a straight drive from Tare ricocheted off the bowler’s hand and ran on to the stumps.

With the side reeling at 61/5, Tare then stitched an important 41-run partnership with Hooda to bring back West Zone in the match. Both the batsmen opened their arms at will and took on the opposition bowling. While Tare, who has been picked as a batsman in the side, struck five boundaries and a six in his 33-ball knock, Hooda hammered the bowlers to all corners of the park with four gigantic sixes and two boundaries.

Hooda had a lucky reprieve on his individual score of three when he was put down by Apoorv Wankhede and he used it to good effect to help his side post the modest total. After Tare’s dismissal, he continued the carnage with the tail-enders as his side took 42 off the last three overs. Aniket Choudhary was the pick of the bowlers for the Central side with three wickets to his name.

Coming on to bat, Naman Ojha (11) and Mahipal Lomror (14) started the chase on an attacking note, helping their side reach 30 in just three overs. Ishwar Choudhary (2/50) then struck twice in two successive overs, removing both the openers to try and curb the run-rate, but neither Rayadu nor Harmeet were willing to put the brakes on. Rayadu hit three boundaries in his 19-ball knock and acted as Harmeet’s deputy who took charge to up the ante.

It was almost a single-handed effort from the Madhya Pradesh lad who struck four sixes and two boundaries to ensure the chase never lost steam. When he fell in the 18th over, his side were just 3 runs away from victory of which Sohraab Dhaliwaal made short work of; hitting a six to seal the four points for his sides.