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2014 Deodhar Trophy SF - NZ vs SZ

Rajat Paliwal stars in North Zone win

With a comprehensive 100-run win over South Zone, North Zone powered their way into the final of the 2014 BCCI Prof D B Deodhar Trophy. After centurion Rajat Paliwal and Gurkeerat Singh salvaged the floundering North Zone innings with a 151-run partnership, their bowlers bowled out South Zone for 165 to claim victory.

Batting first, North Zone put up 265 for seven, after being reduced to 63 for four in the 21st over. South Zone captain Vinay Kumar, who has been in good form while representing his state team throughout the season, provided early breakthroughs to push NZ on the back foot. He claimed Gautam Gambhir for two, and followed up with the wicket of Nitin Saini six overs later. Five runs later, Mandeep Singh was run out. And a few overs later, Baba Aparajith trapped Prashant Chopra leg-before.

However, Gurkeerat Singh and Rajat Paliwal then fashioned a comeback for North Zone with a solid fifth-wicket partnership. The pair carefully rebuilt the innings and seized the advantage back from South Zone, until Vinay Kumar struck to end the stand. The SZ captain sent back Gurkeerat Singh to end the flourishing partnership. With Gurkeerat back in the pavilion for 77, Parvez Rasool came out to the crease, but was removed by Abhimanyu Mithun for eight. Harbhajan Singh followed him back after adding seven to the total, while Paliwal continued to stoically hold up one end. The middle-order batsman remained unbeaten on 107 with Rishi Dhawan on four as North Zone set the opposition a competitive target.

Chasing the 266-run target, South Zone got off to a good start with Robin Uthappa and Aparajith building a 72-run opening stand. Ishant Sharma gave NZ their first breakthrough by accounting for Aparajith’s wicket. Rishi Dhawan then claimed two in his next two overs to leave the opposition on 78 for three and tip the balance back in NZ’s favour. NZ bowlers continued to strike at regular intervals thereafter. After Dhawan accounted for Uthappa and Lokesh Rahul’s wicket, Harbhajan Singh and Rasool ran through the rest of the line-up to wrap up the SZ innings.

Harbhajan and Rasool claimed three wickets each, while Ashish Nehra took one to bowl North Zone to a victory in the semi-final clash.

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Dhoni pleased with Rohit’s form

Indian captain wants other batsmen to be tested as well

After following up the win over Pakistan with a seven-wicket victory against West Indies, MS Dhoni is pleased with his bowlers’ performance in the World Twenty20 so far. However, while the Indian bowlers are passing the test with flying colours, the captain acknowledges his middle-order batsmen are yet to be tested.

"We are playing well, so it doesn't really matter to me that all of us should get a chance,” Dhoni said after the win. “Our bowling has been tested while batting not so far. Hopefully, in the coming matches the other batsmen will get a chance,” referring to the fact that he wasn’t required to bat in either of the matches.

He was, however, glad to see Rohit Sharma back in form with an unbeaten 62 against West Indies. "It was important for Rohit to bat through, that will add on to the confidence. It was a slow wicket and batting here does well to the confidence of a batsman. We all know the kind of batsman he is on a pitch like this and he will take plenty from this game.”

While overall pleased with his bowlers’ efforts, Dhoni showed some concern over the absence of a reliable death bowler. “To some extent it is (a concern),” he said.

"We don't really have a banker, that most of the sides have, someone to fall back on in the 18th and 20th over. We are playing games to some extent, to see who is better suited, depending on the conditions,” Dhoni said.

The drastic improvement in India’s bowling performance in the tournament has a lot to do with Amit Mishra’s in-form return to the team. The leg-spinner was the catalyst in India’s wins, winning the man of the match award in both matches.

"I am happy to get back-to-back awards,” Mishra said. “At the time I am performing well. That's more important for me. Every team has different strength, I am trying to sort out their weaknesses. I've done a lot of hard work in the nets for my variations and I'm happy they are coming out well," he said.

As the Indians rejoiced in their win, West Indies skipper, Darren Sammy, rued the one that got away. He, however, praised his bowlers for delaying the inevitable and taking India’s chase to the last over.

"We just didn't respond well enough to their spinners, we took a long time,” Sammy said.

“Credit to them, they bowled well, executed their plans well. It was good to see our bowlers take it all the way to the last over, because in these tournaments net run-rate could come into play.

"We did not have enough runs on the board but happy with the way the bowlers came back. Kohli and Rohit had a good partnership and that took the game away from us," Sammy said.