Central's second defeat in the tournament Gambhir hit a 98-ball unbeaten 95
Ahmedabad: Joginder Sharma picked up four wickets to help North Zone defeat Central by seven wickets in the All Star series tournament for the Deodhar Trophy at Motera on Tuesday.
Clearly influenced by the green-topped surface, skipper Dinesh Mongia had no hesitation in deciding to field first.
New ball operators Vikram Raj Vir Singh and Ashish Nehra sent the openers back quickly after which Joginder swung into action, reducing Central to 81 for six.
Central, beaten by West Zone earlier in the tournament, managed to reach 195 in 47 overs following a determined knock of 57 by Shreyas Khanolkar. North overhauled the target in the 34th over to gain four points and the bonus point, thanks largely to Gautam Gambhir's unbeaten 98-ball 95 (13x4, 1x6) and Shikhar Dhawan's 73-ball 51 (5x4).
In full cry
While the North seamers were in full cry and threatening to skittle out Central for a paltry score, Khanolkar showed the kind of determination that was absent in the likes of Mohammad Kaif, Syed Abbas Ali and Jai Prakash Yadav. Kaif essayed an adventurous shot and gifted his wicket, so did Yadav, while Abbas Ali inside-edged Joginder Sharma onto his stumps. Khanolkar (57, 86 balls, 8x4) and Rohit Jhalani added 41 runs for the seventh wicket before Jhalani jumped out to left-arm spinner Vipul Sharma only to be stumped.
Central declined further from 122 for seven to 145 for nine after which Murali Kartik and Pankaj Singh raised a half-century partnership, the highest in Central's slip-shod effort.
Inspired by the splendid rearguard action, left-arm seamer Rudra Pratap Singh and Pankaj Singh produced two quick wickets, but Gambhir and Dhawan's powerful display that produced 140 runs for the third wicket saw North clinch the match in an emphatic manner.
Having lost its second match Central is virtually out of the running for the title. The remaining seven matches of the tournament will be played from March 2 at the Brabourne Stadium and Wankhede, Mumbai from March 2.
The scores: Central Zone: F. Fayaz b V.R.V. Singh 10, Mohnish Sharma lbw b Nehra 5, M. Kaif c Dharmani b Joginder Sharma 19, S. Khanolkar (run out) 57, S.
Abbas Ali b Joginder Sharma 6, P. Chawla lbw b Joginder Sharma 1, J.P. Yadav c Dhawan b Joginder Sharma 0, R. Jhalani st. Dharmani b Vipul Sharma 20, R.P. Singh c Sarandeep b Vipul Sharma 7, M. Kartik b Nehra 22, Pankaj Singh (not out) 28; Extras (lb-2, nb-4, w-14): 20. Total (in 47 overs): 195.
Fall of wickets: 1-15, 2-25, 3-59, 4-77, 5-81, 6-81, 7-122, 8-132, 9-145.
North bowling: Nehra 8-0-36-2, V.R.V. Singh 10-0-42-1, Joginder Sharma 8-0-47-4, Vipul Sharma 10-0-36-2, Sarandeep 10-2-30-0, Mongia 1-0-2-0.
North Zone: K. Goel c Jhalani b R.P. Singh 9, G. Gambhir (not out) 95, D. Mongia c Kaif b Pankaj Singh 18, S. Dhawan c R.P. Singh b Pankaj Singh 51, P. Dharmani (not out) 0; Extras (lb-6, nb-1, w-17): 24. Total (for three wkts. in 34 overs): 197.
Fall of wickets: 1-31, 2-53, 3-193.
Central bowling: R.P. Singh 6-0-39-1, Pankaj Singh 10-0-55-2, Yadav 5-0-26-0, Fazal 2-0-21-0, Kartik 5-0-19-0, Khanolkar 2-0-7-0, Chawla 4-0-24-0.