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.
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.