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East Zone crowned Syed Mushtaq Ali Inter-Zonal champions

Jaggi, Virat Singh star in victory against West Zone

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.

“This is the first time we are playing the zonal T20 (Syed Mushtaq Ali in a zonal format) and East zone have created history by becoming champions. If there is a zonal T20 again we will try to see that the trophy remains with us,” Jaggi said while reflecting on the tournament.
“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.

Prajakta Pawar
Prajakta Pawar

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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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