East Zone were crowned champions of the inaugural edition of the revamped Syed Mushtaq Ali Inter Zonal trophy after they beat West Zone by eight wickets at the Wankhede Stadium on Saturday.
The side, led by Manoj Tiwary, ended the league on an unbeaten note as half-centuries from Virat Singh (58*) and Ishank Jaggi (56) helped them chase down the 150-run target with 38 balls to spare.
After electing to field first, it was a disciplined bowling attack by East Zone that had restricted West Zone to the modest total following a decent start by captain Parthiv Patel (17) and Sheldon Jackson (52). After picking up just four runs in the opening two overs, Sheldon took on Suryankant Pradhan in the third over — smashing him for a boundary before pulling him over mid-wicket for a six.
Parthiv slammed three consecutive boundaries to get going but was trapped LBW by Pritam Das. After Aditya Tare (1) fell in the next over, Jackson stitched a 40-run partnership with Deepak Hooda. Although it steadied the ship for West Zone, the 40 balls taken during the partnership did little to improve the run-rate.
Sayan Ghosh cleaned up Hooda in the 12th over before Pragyan Ojha sent back Sheldon in the 15th over.
Jackson’s innings, laced with five fours and two sixes might have helped his side reach close to the 150-mark, but the manner in which he scored those runs and threw his wicket after settling down meant that the job was half done. Rujul Bhatt played a handy role coming lower down the order, notching up a quickfire 20-ball 36. He was well assisted by Prerak Mankad (20) on the other end.
Coming on to bat, East Zone got off to a flying start as Arun Karthik (24 off 14 balls) and Virat took on the opposition from the very first over. The duo picked up 55 runs off the first five overs before Karthik was wrongly adjudged caught behind by umpire Nikhil Patwardhan.
It was the second ball of the sixth over after Karthik had handsomely launched Shardul Thakur over long-on for a six but missed the upper cut in the following delivery. While television replays suggested the ball hadn’t taken an edge, Karthik, who was brought in replacing Shreevats Goswami, headed back dejected.
That brought Ishank Jaggi out in the middle who continued his glorious form with the bat in exquisite fashion. He hit three boundaries and six sixes in his 30-ball knock while Virat carried on the carnage from the other end. Jaggi paced his innings well after a sluggish start and got to his fifty in just 27 balls. While most of his sixes came down the ground, he picked up all his boundaries in the third-man region and executed the shots to perfection to pierce through the packed off-side field.
Virat, however, was aggressive from the very beginning and reached his fifty in just 24 balls. He picked up 32 runs off 16 deliveries against Ishwar Choudhary, sent three towering sixes down the ground and with 18 singles in his kitty, rotated the strike well with Jaggi to keep the scoreboard ticking. The onslaught from both ends pushed West Zone on the back foot and thus, even though Jaggi fell in the 13th over, East Zone sealed a thumping win.