Mayank Agarwal (70) struck a terrific half-century as South Zone picked up their first victory of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Inter Zonal tournament beating West Zone by 5 wickets at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Thursday.
It was an exquisite knock by the Karnataka-lad, who hit eight boundaries and two sixes, to make short work of the 141-run target put up by West Zone. He took on the attack at will, kept rotating the strikes as wickets tumbled at the other end, and hit a few copybook cover drives and pulls to take the game away.
Earlier, having put in to bat, West Zone put up a shoddy display as they lost wickets at regular intervals with openers Parthiv Patel (10) and Sheldon Jackson (23) failing to provide the much-needed start. They had picked up 19 off the first two overs, but lost steam a little too soon after Parthiv was dismissed in the fourth over.
Jackson and Mumbai captain Aditya Tare (26) then tried to build a brief partnership through a couple of odd boundaries, but just as they tried to go for the big shots, both were caught on the ropes within a span of eight deliveries to bring back South Zone in the match.
While Chama Milind was the pick of the bowlers with three wickets, it was a disciplined effort by South Zone who kept things tight to hold the opposition to the below-par total. Leg-spinner Murugan Ashwin (2/24) picked up the price wickets of Jackson and Kedar Jadhav (9).
Deepak Hooda (32) tried to provide some momentum as he struck two sixes and a boundary in his 21-ball knock, but the 31-run partnership between him and Rujul Bhatt (8) came to a drastic end as he tried to go for a fancy reverse-sweep, missed it and was stumped by Parthiv.
Milind then stuck twice in the 17th over as he sent pack Bhatt and Abhishek Nayar (0). A late cameo by Irfan Pathan (26 off 17), however helped West Zone’s cause as he hammered Milind for 14 runs in the last over.
South Zone, looking for their first win in the tournament, were off to a flying start as Mayank and Vishnu Vinod plundered the West Zone bowlers in the powerplay to pick up 48 runs off the first five overs. Vinod, trapped by Pravin Tambe in front, had struck four boundaries and two sixes to score 36 of those runs in his 20-ball knock. Dinesh Karthik provided a brief assist with an 18-ball 17 after captain Vijay Shankar was retired hurt, but was cleaned up by Ishwar Chaudhary later in the 13th over.
Ricky Bhui (0) and Hanuma Vihari (5), too, fell in quick succession before Deshpande struck two boundaries coming lower down the order to help his side home. Both the teams were tied at four points each; placed behind East and Central Zone in the points table.
Virat Singh, Manoj Tiwary power East past North
Stand-in opener Virat Singh and captain Manoj Tiwary struck unbeaten half centuries and put on a rollicking century stand for the third wicket to enable East Zone trounce star-studded North Zone by eight wickets.
The victory at the Wankhede Stadium was the third in a row for East who now just have to beat West in their last round robin game on February 18 morning to sew up the title.