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Gambhir scripts North Zone’s win against South Zone

Dhawan scores half-century, Nehra picks two wickets

Chasing 174 runs, Gautam Gambhir led North Zone to a comprehensive eight-wicket win against South Zone in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Inter-zonal T20 tournament at the Wankhede stadium. While the batsman made an effortless 81 off 51 balls, he was complemented by Shikhar Dhawan (50 off 38) to put the side in the driver’s seat.

Gambhir milked Vinay Kumar for three boundaries off the first over to get NZ off to a flying start. He pulled the SZ captain for a boundary to set the tone for the innings. Dhawan too joined in the plundering runs off the SZ attack by cutting S Arvind for a four as they collected 15 off the fourth over. The pair continued to drive, pull and cut the bowlers as they carried the innings forward. 

Continuing to take the attack to the SZ bowlers, Dhawan stepped out and lodged leg-spinner Swarup Kumar over deep midwicket for the first six of the innings. However, soon after reaching his half-century, the opening batsman stepped out to M Ashwin and was stumped.

With NZ comfortably poised on 103 for one in the 12th over, Rishabh Pant, another swashbuckling left-hand bat joined Gambhir in taking the chase forward. While the opener played a masterful knock, the youngster too kept the momentum going.

“From there on I had to play normal cricket and not try to do anything different. I was working on singles and doubles and if I got a loose ball I capitalised on it,” Pant said later. “I was just telling myself to time the ball and don’t try to hit the ball too hard,” he added.

While Pant too attacked with gusto, he slammed GH Vihari for a couple of sixes over the square-leg region to maintain the momentum. The Gambhir-Pant pair added 61 runs for the second wicket until S Arvind knocked the opener’s leg-stump and dislodged the bail. However, by then NZ were within 10 runs of victory. Pant then took the team to the finish line with a six.

Earlier, Tanmay Agarwal and Mayank Agarwal got SZ off to a good start after they were asked to bat by Harbhajan Singh. The pair had put together 51 runs until Tanmay was sent back by Mayank Dagar. Couple of overs later, Harbhajan accounted for Vishnu Vinod and seven runs later Dagar caught Mayank off his own bowling to leave SZ on 65 for three.

Ricky Bhui then continued to hold the innings together and found and able ally in Hanuma Vihari. The pair added 54 runs until Vihari handed a catch straight to long on off Ashish Nehra and departed for 18. After reaching his half-century, the middle-order bat hit the left-arm pacer to the covers and returned with the side on 150 for five. Along with V Shankar, skipper Vinay then hit 23 runs off the last 11 balls and took the team to 173 for five. 

Prajakta Pawar
Prajakta Pawar

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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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