East Zone emerged champions in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Inter-zonal T20, 2017 in the new inter-zonal league format. Chasing 150 in their last game of the tournament, Virat Singh (58*) and Ishank Jaggi (56) helped the Manoj Tiwary-led side to an eight-wicket win against West Zone.
Jaggi, who has carried his form from Ranji Trophy into the T20s, scored his third half-century in four matches to guide the chase along with young Virat Singh. The youngster, who was playing in only his second game of the tournament posted his second consecutive half-century.
“The most satisfactory thing was that we became champions, because when we came into the tournament we were underdogs. Manoj bhaiya (Tiwary) and Rajiv Kumar, who is our coach guided us. They told us that we have to play good cricket, not worry about the results and play as a unit. We got into the groove in the first game and carried the momentum forward,” he added.
Chasing the target, Jaggi joined Virat after KB Arun Karthick departed edging Shardul Thakur to the ‘keeper. The opening pair had set the tone of the innings with a brisk 61-run partnership. While the wicketkeeper batsman had lofted Irfan Pathan for a six in the first over, Virat too had followed suit and milked the bowlers. He smacked Thakur for a straight boundary and later launched Irfan for a six over long off to set the pace.
The left-handed youngster had welcomed S Sanandia with a boundary as he matched Karthik in maintaining the flow of runs. After his opening partner’s departure, he found an able partner in Jaggi. After biding his time, the No 3 bat too dealt in sixes. He hooked Ishwar Choudhary for his six and them clobbered the rest of the attack with gusto. “As a batsman, I want to perform in every game, but in the last game I got out to a bad shot. Today I went in with the mindset I will either leave the short ball initially or defend it. I had gone in with that plan and was able to execute it,” he said looking back on his 30-ball knock that comprised six sixes and three boundaries.
Batting effortlessly, the pair put together 80 runs for the third wicket. Both batters reached their half-centuries with sixes as they clobbered the opposition. However, with just nine runs needed, Jaggi returned to the pavilion making way for Tiwary. The skipper then took the team to the finish line in style.
Jaggi also credited the coach for his and team’s success, “Our coach (Rajiv Kumar) has been fantastic. He is one of the main reasons behind my success this season, because of the way he has nurtured me mentally. In the morning he told us that it doesn’t matter that we are at the top or what the required net run rate is. We have to play good cricket, that the most important thing.”
Earlier, after Parthiv Patel and Sheldon Jackson got West Zone off to a good start, the West Zone captain was trapped lbw by Suryakant Pradhan after being hit for three boundaries. And a run later in the next over, Aditya Tare departed handing a simple catch the wicketkeeper. Deepak Hooda then joined the opener and the pair added 40 runs until the middle-order bat was bowled by Sayan Ghosh. 16 runs later, the opener was sent back by Pragyan Ojha. Prerak Mankad and Rujul Bhatt then added 53 runs until the later was bowled by Pritam Das in the last over. With Irfan Pathan, Bhatt then took the team to 149 for five in 20 overs.