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East Zone close in on title

Captain Manoj Tiwary and Virat Singh star in win over North Zone

Captain Manoj Tiwary and Virat Singh led East Zone to their third successive win of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Iner-zonal T20 with an eight-wicket win against North Zone. The comprehensive win has helped the team sit comfortably at the top of the table and brought them closer to the trophy. Their only competitors for the title are Central Zone.

Chasing a modest 160-run target, Manoj played a captain’s knock to ensure the team a solid net run rate. Joining Virat at 13 for two, he helped build the innings and the pair put together an unbroken 149-run stand to attain the target.

Pradeep Sangwan had drawn an edge from Shreevats Goswami through to the ‘keeper off the first ball while Ishank Jaggi was sent back by Umar Nazir in the next over. But the captain and the young opener played determinedly to nudge North Zone out of the competition.

Virat, who had got an opportunity to display his skill in the absence of Ishan Kishan slammed Umar Nazir for three boundaries in the fourth over – over long on, third man and cut to the fence to take the attack to the opposition. The opener slammed nine fours and two sixes during his 48-ball 74. “I was waiting for the opportunity and I am happy that I contributed in a win. I am more happy that I finished the game for the team. Manoj has the experience and he helped me. He told me to back myself and play with positive intent. It was a decent target and we went for it.”

While Virat took on the bowlers, Manoj paced his innings and shaped the victory with a 43-ball 75 not out. He built the momentum steadily as he ensured that his team maintained the upper-hand. Reflecting on his knock he said, “Yes the effort was towards playing a good innings because I hadn’t had the opportunity to play a long innings in the last two games. The situations were such where I had to play the captain’s knock to take the team through so I was playing that way. Today I got the platform and the situation where I had to lead the team from the front. Our efforts were to keep the intent positive. Since I had gone in to bat inside the first six overs I knew that if I time the ball well it would go in the gaps and the boundaries will come, which is what happened.”

Lauding the youngster’s effort, the skipper added, “Along with me Virat played a very good innings and eased the pressure off me. He hit Nazir for three-four boundaries in an over and that put them under pressure more. We knew that once they lose the momentum they won’t be able to come back and making most of the situation we continued to bat and built the partnership.”

Manoj also slammed five sixes. He had lofted his opposite number Harbhajan Singh over deep mid-wicket and in the next two overs, he hit Manan Sharma and Parvez Rasool for sixes. “Once the match was in hand our focus was to win with as many wickets in hand as possible because you never know what would happen next game.”

The duo then took the team to the finish line with ease.

Earlier too after winning the toss the captain took a calculated decision to field first against a solid North Zone line-up and in the absence of his two key bowlers – Ashoke Dinda and Shahbaz Nadeem. “We know the stats support chasing and the coach also convinced and also a couple of other players. We backed the boys to chase,” Manoj explained.

Earlier, Shikhar Dhawan departed edging Pritam Das to the wicketkeeper and Gautam Gambhir departed miscuing Sayan Ghosh to mid-off leaving the team on 47 for two. 38 runs later, Unmukt Chand too returned to the pavilion for 20. With the top three gone after contributing 20 runs each. Yuvraj Singh, however was on song as he clobbered the attack but having taken the team past the three-figure mark and edged Amit Verma to the wicket-keeper

Prajakta Pawar
Prajakta Pawar

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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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