Mumbai: Manoj Tiwary's free-spirited flurry with the bat and V.R.V. Singh's bursts with the ball compensated the faithful at the D'Road venue at Wankhede and brought life to a trifling league match that East Zone won by three runs against North Zone in the All Star Series Deodhar Trophy tournament here on Saturday.
Two other distinguished batsmen, Deep Dasgupta and Dinesh Mongia competed well in contrasting styles.
Dasgupta, the East Zone captain, proved to be an able foil to his younger partner in Tiwary and Mongia, who hooked Ranadeb Bose over the head of Shib Shankar Paul manning the long-leg fence off the first ball he faced, made an attractive half-century.
Watching wickets tumbling at the other end with V.R.V. Singh in full cry, Tiwary had his task cut out to repair the damage and confirmed his stature as the rising star from Bengal.
Instead of putting up a stout defence, Tiwari, who survived a half-chance at second slip, flayed the North bowling, hitting seven fours and two towering sixes.
Dasgupta hammered half a dozen fours and the two added 150 runs for the fourth wicket and steered East to a competitive total.
The aggressive knock took Tiwary's aggregate to over 1000 runs this season in the BCCI-run tournaments; a superb effort from a man who was not picked for the Duleep Trophy.
East started brilliantly with Paul sending back an out-of-form Gautam Gambhir and Bose dismissed Karan Goel.
The arrival of Mongia (71, 10x4s, 1x 6) changed the complexion of the game with the left-hander driving, cutting and pulling and dominating the fourth wicket stand with Paras Dogra.
Abhishek Jhunjhunwala's double-strike rekindled East's hopes with one of his victims being the rival captain.
The tournament will conclude on Sunday with a match between West and South.
The scores:East Zone: B. Pati c Bhatia b V.R.V. Singh 9, P. Aziz c Goel b V.R.V. Singh 2, A. Jhunjhunwala c Dharmani b Ishant 2, M. Tiwari b Bipul Sharma 89, J. Arun Kumar c Dharmani b V.R.V. Singh 1, D. Dasgupta c Dharmani b V. R.V. Singh 63, T. Chanda (not out) 20, S. Lahiri (run out) 5, M. Diwakar c Dogra b Nabi 24, R. Bose (not out 1). Extras (b-3, nb-4, w-15) 22, Total (for eight wkts. in 50 overs) 238.
Fall of wickets: 1-13, 2-16, 3-21, 4-27, 5-177, 6-186, 7-202, 8-234.
North Zone bowling: V.R.V. Singh 10-1-44-4, Ishant 10-1-28-1, Sarandeep 5-0-34-0, Nabi 5-0-30-1, Bipul Sharma 10-0-44-1, Mongia 10-0-55-0.
North Zone: K. Goel c Dasgupta b Bose 12, G. Gambhir c Dasgupta b Paul 19, P. Dogra b Jhunjhunwala 28, D. Mongia c Tiwary b Jhunjhunwala 71, P. Dharmani (not out) 51, R. Bhatia b Tiwary 15, Bipul Sharma (not out) 21, Extras (lb-3, nb-3, w-12) 18. Total (for five wkts. in 50 overs) 235. Fall of wickets: 1-36, 2-36, 3-141, 4-148, 5-196.
East Zone bowling: Bose 10-0-41-1, Paul 8-1-24-1, Diwakar 5-0-25-0, Chanda 1-0-6-0, Lahiri 6-0-43-0, Tiwary 10-0-35-1, Jhunjhunwala 10-0-58-2.