After setting a target of 259, South fails to stop rampaging West batsmen

Teenager Vijay Zol and the experienced Yusuf Pathan produced knocks of high calibre to carry defending champion West Zone into the final defeating South Zone by five wickets with 8.5 overs to spare in the Airtel Prof. D.B. Deodhar Trophy inter-zonal cricket tournament here at the Nehru Stadium on Tuesday.

The summit clash between West and North will be played on Wednesday.

Asked to bat, South Zone rode on useful knocks from skipper Dinesh Karthik (45), Sachin Baby (58) and Stuart Binny (65) to reach a challenging total of 258 for eight in 50 overs. West chased it down with a lot to spare thanks to Zol’s punishing 75, Yusuf’s typical, hard-hitting 68 and Kedar Jadhav’s quick-fire 56.

“I thought the 259-run target was enough to win the contest. But the West batsmen played better to take the match away from us,” rued captain Karthik. “Our spin attack is inexperienced and it showed up against a good opponent.”

West skipper Parthiv Patel felt, “the two partnerships between Zol and Ambati Rayudu and later Zol and Pathan decided the match. By the 25th over the outcome of the contest was clear.”

South did struggle on a pitch that aided seamers initially and gripped and turned when the spinners operated. South brought in Hanuma Vihari to partner K.L. Rahul but the pair did not click.

West’s Abhishek Nayar, who came on to bowl the 12th over, removed Vihari off the first ball but struggled to end the over (17 balls) as he delivered 10 wide balls and a no ball. A lot was expected of Baba Aparajith but he failed to keep down a hook off Unadkat leaving South reeling at 61 for three in 15 overs.

After wicketkeeper C.M. Gautam fell for 14, Karthik and Sachin Baby came together to add 45 for the fifth wicket in 10.1 overs. An experienced West bowling kept a tight leash on the South batsmen.

After Karthik was adjudged leg before to a straight one for 45 (66b, 5x4), Binny joined Baby and the two produced the team’s best phase. The sixth wicket pair added 87 runs in 13.1 overs with Binny playing the lead role.

After gauging the pitch, Binny flicked Unadkat to square-leg for his first boundary. When Munaf Patel came on, he eased him past point. A back-foot cover drive off Makvana and a chip to mid-wicket off Nayar indicated Binny’s mood. Picking the gaps with the right shots was the highlight of his innings. He hit Makvana twice to the fence, the first being a sweep and the second a reverse sweep. Binny also punched a half-volley from Unadkat through cover.

In between, he lost Baby. After preferring to graft for most part, Baby fell when he tried to hit out. His 58 (68b, 3x4) and Binny’s 65 (54b, 7x4) went a long way in helping South go past the 250-mark.

Zol and Parthiv came out firing against the South bowlers. Abhimanyu Mithun fed the diminutive opener from Maharashtra on the leg and Zol picked him off the toes. After Parthiv hit Mithun through cover point, Zol went over the infield with a slash past third-man.

Parthiv was taken by Binny at third man off Mithun for 14. After Manpreet Juneja was dismissed cheaply, Ambati Rayudu and Zol added 71 in 11.3 overs. Rayudu was taken behind off left-arm spinner B. Sudhakar for 31. This brought Yusuf to the middle. The Baroda all-rounder struggled initially but got his eye in before opening out. Zol, however, dominated the bowling with fierce square-cuts and drives.

Brilliant innings

It was a brilliant innings (75, 88b, 11x4, 1x6) from the junior World Cupper. His first boundary came off Mithun as he stroked past mid-wicket. Zol then slashed Mithun over point before cover-driving Vinay Kumar elegantly. A backfoot drive and a flick over midwicket in the same over off Mithun boosted his confidence further.

A square drive past point off Mithun and a square cut off Aparajith came from his punitive blade before he turned his attention to Sandeep Warrier. A leg glance and hook for six were followed by a perfect on-drive as he showed his domination.

Vinay, however, deceived him with a slower one as the intended square drive landed in the safe hands of Aparajith at deep third-man. Yusuf was severe on all the bowlers as he and Kedar Jadhav added 58 in 6.5 overs to seal the contest in West’s favour. Though Yusuf left for 68 (53b, 8x4, 2x6), Jadhav’s entertaining, unbeaten 56 made sure West made it to the final with ease.

The scores:

South: K.L. Rahul b Munaf 10, H. Vihari b Nayar 23, B. Aparajith c Dhruv b Unadkat 6, D. Karthik lbw b Makvana 45, C.M. Gautam c Makvana b Nayar 14, S. Baby st. Parthiv b Dhruv 58, S. Binny (run out) 65, R. Vinay Kumar c Makvana b Munaf 4, A. Mithun (not out) 5; Extras (b-1, lb-5, nb-1, w-21): 28; Total (for eight wkts. in 50 overs): 258.

Fall of wickets: 1-28, 2-38, 3-61, 4-98, 5-143, 6-230, 7-245, 8-258.

West bowling: Munaf 10-1-48-2, Unadkat 12-1-49-1, Nayar 7-0-49-2, Dhruv 10-0-47-1, Makvana 10-1-55-1, Yusuf 1-0-4-0.

West: V. Zol c Aparajith b Vinay Kumar 75, Parthiv c Binny b Mithun 14, M. Juneja lbw b V. Kumar 1, A. Rayudu c Gautam b Sudhakar 31, Yusuf c Aparajith b Mithun 68, K. Jadhav (not out) 56, A. Nayar (not out) 10; Extras (lb-2, w-2): 4; Total (for five wkts. in 41.1 overs): 259.

Fall of wickets: 1-25, 2-26, 3-97, 4-163, 5-221.

South bowling: Vinay Kumar 8-1-50-2, Mithun 8-0-45-2, Aparajith 5.1-0-32-0, Warrier 6-0-38-0, Binny 3-0-14-0, Sudhakar 10-0-76-1, Baby 1-0-2-0.

Player of the match: Vijay Zol.

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