Central Zone had to beat East with a bonus point to reach the Deodhar Trophy final. In Monday’s Group A match, they were in danger of conceding it before battling to an 18-run loss to set up an East-West final.
Asking his players for a team effort, East captain Manoj Tiwary got just that. He lost a vital toss and the reputation of the Central seamers meant his openers had to apply themselves hard in dim conditions which cut the game to 48 overs per side.
This was Central's best chance to keep East to a modest total and chase it in 38.3 overs following the reduction. Central failed to make hay when the ball had shine and didn't recover adequately after making a disastrous start with the bat. Wriddhiman Saha and Natraj Behera gave East a fine start. That the Central bowlers failed to extract enough and consistent movement helped. After taking a close and quiet look at the bowling, Saha started accelerating.
Saha completed his 50 in the 15th over. He wasn't using his feet well against Murali Kartik and after surviving a stumping chance, was trapped on the back foot. East didn't get another big partnership but got contributions from Ishank Jaggi and Saurabh Tiwary.
Central's task was never going to be easy and once Ashok Dinda hurled one through the defence of Naman Ojha, East kept hitting the stumps with unusual regularity. At 69 for six in the 16th over, thoughts of Central's bonus point became absurd and even the 205 needed to deny East was looking distant.
West have it easy
Brief scores: Zimbabwe President's XI 176 (S Matsikenyeri 44; Abdulla 3-28) lost to West 177 for 4 (Pujara 53 n. o., Rahane 41) by six wickets.