West Zone cantered to an eight-wicket win against North Zone in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Inter-zonal T20 at Wankhede Stadium.
After losing to Central Zone, the Parthiv Patel-led team put up an improved performance the next day to turn fortunes around. Irfan Pathan set up the stage by claiming three of the top four batsmen of the power-packed NZ lineup to leave the Harbhajan Singh-led team on 24 for three. Despite, Gautam Gambhir’s (60) efforts NZ were restricted to 107 for eight. Parthiv Patel then helped his team to the target with a well compiled half-century.
While Gambhir held up one end, the Irfan-led attack ran through the NZ lineup after Parthiv elected to field. The left-arm pacer forced an edge from Shikhar Dhawan to the slips to get the first breakthrough. 12 runs later, Rishabh Pant holed out an Irfan delivery to mid-off and Yuvraj Singh was caught at covers off the next ball. While the bowler missed out on a hat-trick he had firmly pushed the opposition on the back foot.
The experienced campaigner had set up the stage for his side by bowling all of his four overs on the trot. Speaking about his 3/10 Irfan said, “At the end of the day it is how many wickets that you have taken that counts. It has been a good day. I am really happy it has been a much better day result wise. And also happy with the way the bowl swung as well.”
NZ couldnt recover from the early strikes as Gambhir found little support from the other end. Amit Pachharra looking for a second even after slipping and falling found himself run out by a direct hit from Shreyas Iyer from square-leg leaving NZ on 32 for four. While Parvez Rasool was sent back by Abhishek Nayar, Deepak Hooda ran out Mayank Dagar leaving the side tottering on 57 for six. Harbhajan Singh’s stay at the crease was ended by Ishwar Choudhary for seven with NZ on 90. And although he took the team past the three-figure mark, the opener departed hitting Shardul Thakur to square-leg with a ball left in the innings.
Iyer then kicked-off the chase with Parthiv. The local lad smacked Pardeep Sangwan through deep midwicket to set the tone. While he drove and upper-cut the ball to the fence, the captain too looked in sublime touch as he guided the ball to the boundary. They had taken the 80 when Iyer was adjudged lbw off Rasool. The captain milked the NZ attack as he closed in on the target but 12 runs later he was castled by Mohit Sharma. Aditya Tare then took the team to a comprehensive win.
Speaking about the turnaround for the team in a day’s time, Irfan, said, “Shitanshu Kotak (coach) has done a wonderful job along with Parthiv Patel. The team is very good including our manager. We are all coming together and making sure that we put up our best. Yes, we know we are not the best fielding side given the choices what we have in the team, but still we need to give it our best and that’s what we did today.
We held our catches and had two direct hits for run-outs. It was a totally different scenario from what happened yesterday. Obviously the guys talked about it and we all as professionals took the ownership to get better on the field. The main thing was to be a better fielding side and obviously luckily it was a good toss to win.”
Further elaborating on the difference between winning and losing in two games he said, “Yesterday we lost the toss but we got a good start (but) then we lost (way) in the middle (lost wickets). If you don’t lose too many wickets when you bat first then actually it becomes easier.
Even though we were struggling we scored 160 runs yesterday, but today North Zone kept losing wickets. We kept getting wickets, run outs as well so that was the major thing. The bigger impact than the toss was our fielding.”