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Harpreet Singh Bhatia stars in Central Zone’s win

Deepka Hooda hits 49 for West Zone

Naman Ojha-led Central Zone opened their account in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Inter-zonal T20 with a six-wicket win against Parthiv Patel-led West Zone in the first game of the tournament. While Deepak Hooda impressed with a gutsy 26-ball 49 to help WZ post a respectable 160 after being reduced to 61 for five; Harpreet Singh Bhatia took Central to victory with a sparkling 62 off 42 balls.

Put in to bat, Parthiv was the first to return to the pavilion with the team on 25 with miscued hit and Priyank Panchal followed him back in the next to leave the team on 38 for two. Kedar Jadhav, who then joined Shreyas Iyer added eight before he was sent back by Sohraab Dhaliwal. And the local Mumbai lad followed him back two balls later with the team on 48 for four. Irfan Pathan, who had come to the crease at No 5, was the next to return to the pavilion; backing up too far at the non-striker’s end he was run out for 4.

With half the side back in the pavilion, with a little over nine overs left, Hooda walked into bat took West Zone to 160 for eight at the end of the innings. He joined forces with Aditya Tare and helped stabilised the wobbly West Zone innings with a 47-run stand for the sixth wicket.

However, all hadn’t started well for the all-rounder either. Looking to take on the bowling, Hooda survived while on three as Apoorva Wankhede couldn’t hold on to what could have been a superb catch at midwicket. The batsman then played determinedly along with his senior partner to rebuild the innings. With five overs left the duo looked to accelerate and Tare set the tone with a six over backward point, where he also found the boundary to keep the scoreboard moving. However, later in the over, he departed hitting Aniket Choudhary to long on.

With his task cut out, Hooda continued to milk the bowlers even as he continued lose partners. In the next over, Abhishek Nayar found Harpreet Singh Bhatia in the covers and returned for two. Shardul Thakur, who then joined him dismissed Rajpoot for a straight six before returning for nine. A brilliant catch by Karn running to the covers left West Zone on 151 for eight with six balls left in the innings. In the last over Hooda added nine runs to the tally to take the side to a respectable score.

Defending the total, Ishwar Chaudhary castled Mahipal Lomror to give West Zone their first breakthrough. 10 runs later skipper Naman Ojha’s mistimed hit was caught by Iyer at covers. Harpreet, then joined Ambati Rayudu in the middle ensured Central Zone a comprehensive win. He was involved in a 35-run stand for the third wicket until the No 3 bat was foxed by Pravin Tambe and found his bails dislodged by Parthiv behind the stumps.

Running hard between the wickets he kept the scoreboard moving at a steady pace. The middle-order bat took the attack to the WZ bowlers as he launched them over the ropes to take the team within sniffing distance of the target. He was ably complemented by Mahesh Rawat in the pursuit. However, with three runs required to win he was sent back by Irfan Pathan for 62. Dhaliwal then joined Rawat in taking CZ to victory with 10 balls to spare.  

Prajakta Pawar
Prajakta Pawar

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Players keen to compete against the best in Syed Mushtaq Ali T20

Parthiv Patel, Naman Ojha and Manoj Tiwary look forward to the new format

Parthiv Patel-led West Zone will take on Central Zone, who will be led by Naman Ojha in the first match of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Inter-zonal T20 tournament. In the ongoing 2016-17 season there will be zonal teams – West, East, North, Central, South which comprise of the best of the lot from the particular zone battling it out for the title. Ahead of the tournament, state teams of each zone played against each other and the performers from the various state sides of a particular zone have been picked for the respective zonal team.

Speaking about the format ahead of the tournament opener, Parthiv said, “It’s good to play against the best. Almost everyone who is available will be playing, so a very important tournament when it comes to assessing yourself against the best. We are looking forward to playing this.”
“After playing the domestic games, where you have done well for your state side, you get to play another quality side. The new players will get time to assess themselves how they have done well against international players,” he observed.

East Zone skipper Manoj Tiwary too echoed his thoughts while stating, “It is challenging to play amongst and against the best of the lot. It is a very competitive tournament. Lot of zones have got lot of quality players; lot of current India players are also taking part. So obviously it is a challenge.”

Speaking about his own side, the all-rounder from Kolkata said, “As you know there are not many stars in our team. I am very sure that a star will be born here from our side this time. People will recognize them (the talent) when they see our games in the tournament. I am looking forward to this tournament eagerly.”

Naman Ojha, who will be leading the Central Zone also reiterated the same when he mentioned, “All the best players are coming here so I think it is a very good tournament to play.”

Speaking about leading the side after Suresh Raina became unavailable, Naman said, “I was leading the Madhya Pradesh team and we have done well and topped the tournament. Also I have played with all the players so it is not something very new. I am looking forward to it.”
Speaking about the opposition for their first game, Naman, who led Madhya Pradesh in the inter-state T20 said, “In the T20 format every team is dangerous and we have to play every team as if they are the best team in the tournament.”

His opposite number, Parthiv too reckoned that all teams are an equal threat. “Obviously they are a good side. Everyone who has been there and thereabouts (is there). All the teams are well-balanced. Hopefully we’ll start on a winning note,” he said.

Parthiv’s side also has amongst its ranks Kedar Jadhav who made a big impact for the national side in limited overs. Speaking about the asset to the team, he said, “He has had a brilliant one-day series with the bat and ball. He has been bowling well and not many knew it but because we play against each other quite a lot being from the same zone – he has been bowling well in the domestic games. But to bowl well in international games and batting as well is incredible. I am not surprised with the way he has batted. He has scored a lot of runs against a lot of good sides. For West Zone, I have seen him getting hundreds in 60-odd balls. It’s great to see that quality getting transformed into international cricket as well.”

Reflecting on his team’s composition, Parthiv said, “We have always been a very good side. We have won a lot of zonal tournaments. Even in Ranji, there has at least been one side playing the final. And we gel well together; we play a lot of cricket together. There are a lot of cricketers from my U-19 batch who are here together. And then coming to Wankhede is a great vibe.”

Prajakta Pawar
Prajakta Pawar

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