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Yuvraj takes North to title triumph

By Our Special Correspondent

VALSAD, FEB. 4. Yuvraj Singh slammed an unbeaten century and helped North Zone take the Prof. D.B. Deodhar Trophy with an emphatic victory over South Zone here today.

Yuvraj Singh appeared undaunted by the fact that his team was floundering at 38 for four chasing 213, and came up with a fearless exhibition of strokeplay.

V.V.S. Laxman decided to bat first on a pitch which was a seamer's ally and paid a heavy price. Once left-arm seamer Vishnuvardhan delivered the goods in his opening spell, North and Yuvraj took control of the match and romped home with 48 balls to spare and four wickets standing.

Earlier, Yuvraj watched proceedings from first slip as South's innings crawled along until Venugopala Rao attempted to take the innings forward by hitting out at Harbhajan Singh.

Opener Rowland Barrington and Laxman fell in identical fashion, fishing outside the off-stump, though it required some effort from Manvinder Singh Bisla, chosen in place of Ajay Ratra, to hold on to the catch offered by Barrington.

Amit Bhandari and Gagandeep Singh operated for 16 overs before Dinesh Mongia took Gangandeep off, but allowed Bhandari to complete his 10 overs in one spell.

Harbhajan Singh, introduced in the 32nd over, saw Venugopala Rao play a cameo and dumping him beyond the on-side boundary. Venugopala Rao also played a few big shots off the left-arm spin of Mongia. However, North had the advantage of having another good seamer in Joginder Sharma, who responded to the circumstances quite remarkably.

There was plenty of action though with the South batsmen trying to steal singles and North fielders missing the stumps or hitting it only for the umpires Bomi Jamula and Sameer Bandekar to make a quick dash and put the bails back in its place.

Dinesh Kaarthick's defiant knock — he was beaten five times in an over from Sharma — might have prevented a collapse and Rao's contribution just about gave respectability to the South total.

Laxman's plans seemed to be working when Vishnuvardhan dismissed Gambhir, Mithun Manhas and Mongia while Tinu Yohannan accounted for Bisla.

But Yuvraj changed the complexion of the game, initially with fine support from Ajay Jadeja, and then on his own collaring the South seamers and spinners alike.

He rose on his toes to play forcing shots in front of square, flicked the overpitched ones between square-leg and mid-wicket and lifted the spinners and even Vishnuvardhan for sixes. In fact after completing his century he hammered Vishnuvardhan at will to remain unbeaten on 124 (120b, 16x4, 3x6).

North finished on top of the league with 14 points, while West, which lost by 12 runs to Central at Jamnagar today, finished runner-up with 9 points, followed by Central (8), South (7) and East (2).

The scores:

South Zone: R. Barrington c Bisla b Bhandari 10, D. Kaarthick c Bisla b Sharma 46, V.V.S. Laxman c Bisla b Bhandari 6, S. Sriram c & b Mongia 36, Y. Venugopala Rao c Gagandeep b Harbhajan 59, Arjun Yadav c Jadeja b Harbhajan 6, S. Badrinath c Bisla b Sharma 24, Sreekumar Nair c Yuvraj b Harbhajan 1, Vishnuvardhan b Harbhajan 8, T. Yohannan (not out) 1, R. Jesuraj (not out) 1; Extras (lb-4, nb-1, w-9): 14; Total (for nine wkts in 50 overs) 212.

Fall of wickets: 1-23, 2-32, 3-90, 4-122, 5-137, 6-193, 7-195, 8-210, 9-210.

North bowling: Bhandari 10-0-30-2, Gagandeep 10-1-38-0, Jadeja 5-0-28-0, Joginder Sharma 8-0-25-2, Harbhajan 10-0-48-4, Mongia 7-0-39-1.

North Zone: M.S. Bisla c Barrington b Yohannan 9, G. Gambhir c Jesuraj b Vishnuvardhan 0, M. Manhas c Nair b Vishnuvardhan 0, D. Mongia c & b Vishnuvardhan 19, Yuvraj Singh (not out) 124, Ajay Jadeja st. Kaarthick b Nair 34, Sangram Singh c Laxman b Sriram 16, Joginder Sharma (not out) 1; Extras (b-1, lb-4, nb-3, w-3): 11; Total (for six wkts in 42 overs) 214.

Fall of wickets: 1-8, 2-8, 3-16, 4-38, 5-160, 6-207.

South bowling: Yohannan 7-0-36-1, Vishnuvardhan 9-2-35-3, Jesuraj 8-0-43-0, Venugopala Rao 5-0-22-0, Badrinath 4-0-27-0, Sreekumar Nair 7-0-36-0, Laxman 1-0-3-0, Sriram 1-0-7-0.

At Jamnagar: Central Zone 282 in 49.5 overs (S. Raina 84, Abbas Ali 40, J.P. Yadav 56) bt West Zone 270 in 49.1 overs (D. Jadhav 46, A. Christian 40, A. Agarkar 52).

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