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Star-studded North Zone upstaged by Central Zone

Karn Sharma takes three big wickets, helps defend 167

Leg spinner Karn Sharma helped Central Zone defend a modest 167-run total against the power-packed North Zone lineup and register their second win of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Inter-zonal T20 tournament. He accounted for Gautam Gambhir, Harbhajan Singh and Shikhar Dhawan to leave NZ on 78 for three in the 13th over and later took a skier by Yuvraj Singh to keep his side on top. He finished with three for 17 as Central Zone pulled off a four-run win.

“The more dot balls we can bowl the better for our team, so that was the plan. We were a 15-20 runs short. Our plan was to concede fewer runs in the first six overs,” Karn said while reflecting on the win.

Chasing the 168-run target, in form Gautam Gambhir opened the North Zone innings with Shikhar Dhawan and the pair had steadily put together 48 runs when Karn struck the first blow. A good catch by S Dahliwal running from deep mid wicket sent back Gambhir.

Harbhajan Singh, who then joined Gambhir was caught at long-off looking for the big hit off the leg spinner in his next. Dhawan, who had played patiently to shape the innings was the next to return to the dressing room; caught near the ropes while looking to clear the straight boundary.

“I bowled a little slower today. I had bowled quicker in the last game, so it was easy to be hit. But today I planned that I would bowl slower and bowl the wrong ones,” Karn said while speaking about his bowling.

“It is difficult to bowl googly to the left handers. I am a left-hander, so I know how the batting is done to a leg-spinner, so I planned accordingly. I stuck to my,” he added.

With the team precariously poised, Yuvraj Singh then joined Rishabh Pant in the middle, however 12 runs later, the wicket-keeper batsman stepping out to Wakhare was stumped. With Amit Pachhara for company, Yuvraj then launched into the CZ attack. Battling an uphill task, he clobbered Aniket Choudhary for three sixes as he looked to take the game forward. The left-handed batsman preferred the square-leg region to smash the bowlers over the fence. However, while looking for another hit, he was caught for 33 off the bowler.

At 137 for five, with 12 balls left in the innings, Manpreet Singh Grewal joined Pachhara in the middle but, Amit Mishra accounted for the latter in the last over. The bowler then bowled CZ to victory. 

Earlier, after NZ elected to field, Grewal sent back Mahipal Lomror in the second over while Ambati Rayudu departed dragging a Ashish Nehra delivery onto the stumps in the next. With the team on seven for two, HS Bhatia joined Naman Ojha and the pair took the team to 40 until the former was sent back by Harbhajan Singh. 52 runs later, the CZ skipper was stumped off his opposite number for 48 leaving the team on 92 for four. While Mahesh Rawat held up one end, wickets continued to fall at the other. A bit later, with the side on 120, Karn drove a low full toss from the left-arm pacer to short cover. Dhaliwal was the next to be sent back by Nehra leaving the team on 132 for six. And while Amit Mishra was run out for 18, Rawat took the team to 167 for seven with an unbeaten 57-run knock. 

Prajakta Pawar
Prajakta Pawar

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Jaggi, Manoj Tiwary star in East Zone’s win

South Zone suffer second successive defeat

With a 51-ball 90, Ishank Jaggi led East Zone to a six-wicket win against South Zone in the ongoing Syed Mushtaq Ali Inter-zonal T20. After Manoj Tiwary picked 3/31, the East Zone attack restricted the opposition to 178, the top-order bat helped the team to their second successive victory of the tournament.

Carrying his form from the longest format into the shortest version of the game, the batsman shaped the chase after coming to the crease at 13 for one. At the departure of Ishan Kishan taking the aerial route to S Arvind in the second over, Jaggi joined Shreevats Goswami in the middle. The pacer’s next over, the No 3 showed intent as he launched the bowler over long-off and followed it up with a boundary. Couple of overs later though, his another attempt at a big hit was caught at square-leg by GH Vihari. However, Vijay Shankar had bowled a no-ball and the batsman got a life when on 39. While batsman continued to take the attack to the opposition, the opener was sent back by Vijay in his next over, leaving EZ on 77 for two.

While Jaggi capitalised, he found an ally in Saurabh Tiwary. The pair added 81 runs for the third wicket until the flourishing stand was ended by Vinay Kumar with the wicket of the hard-hitting middle-order bat. The SZ captain would have had a second wicket in same over had the point fielder been able to hold to the catch to send back Jaggi. However, the batsman was sent back off the first ball of the next over by B Thampi. Manoj Tiwary took the team to the target with Biplab Samantaray.

“It was an important knock because our team won. It has been a good season for me as I feel I have hit the peak," Jaggi said while reflecting on the knock. I would say it has been our coach Rajiv Kumar (Jharkhand coach) and it is not something that I have told anyone. This guy gave us a lot of confidence, this guy changed everything from the mindset to the positivity and everything. He told us to go out and express ourselves and that is the only we can perform. He told us not to have fear of failure and that was a big factor. He changed me a lot, I was a good player but I was not that professional and coach Kumar helped me a lot along with the captain," he said while talking about the difference this season for himself and his state side.

Earlier, after electing to field, Pritam Das had given EZ their first breakthrough by dismantling Tanmay Agarwal’s stumps in the second over. Vinay Kumar then joined Mayank Agarwal in laying a platform for a respectable total. The all-rounder, who has been batting up the order on occasions during the season’s T20 matches, came in at No 3 and partnered the opener for 112 runs. The duo milked the opposition until Manoj accounted for Mayank. Looking to go over the top, the opener departed for 72. And in the following over Dinesh Karthik was run out leaving SZ on 129 for three. 10 runs later, Ricky Bhui too returned taking the aerial route to Manoj. In his next over, the EZ skipper accounted for his opposite number to leave SZ on 162 for five and kept the team in check. Couple of overs later Sayan Gosh claimed GH Vihari. Saurabh took his third catch in the long-off region to leave the team on 174 for six in the penultimate over. Pavan Deshpande and Vijay Shankar then took the SZ to 178 for six and set the opposition a competitive target.  

Prajakta Pawar
Prajakta Pawar

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