Arjun Yadav, Sriram star for South

HYDERABAD JAN. 3. The focus was on Amabati Tirupati Rayudu. But N. Arjun Yadav and Sridharan Sriram turned out to be the unexpected heroes of the day, as defending champion South Zone romped home in style with a seven-wicket win against Central Zone in the Deodhar Trophy limited-overs cricket tournament at Gymkhana Grounds here today.

Chasing a modest target of 221 in 50 overs, South Zone was in a spot of bother very early as opener Barrington Rowland (0) and Rayudu (5) were sent back by medium-pacer Harvinder Singh in a hostile spell. The two paid the penalty for driving away from the body to be caught behind.

Then if the Central camp entertained hopes of pulling off something dramatic, they were dashed by the efficacy of Arjun Yadav (96 not out, 128b, 11x4, 1x6) and southpaw Sriram (89 not out, 66b, 9x4, 1x6) who put on 161 runs for the fourth wicket in 25.1 overs and 94 minutes which put the issue beyond the rivals.

Earlier put in, Central was lucky to get off to a good start with Jyothi Yadav (33) and Gagan Khoda (31) putting on 72 runs in 17 overs. This despite South Zone fielders dropping four catches in the first 10 overs with medium-pacer L. Balaji suffering the most — thrice.

The innings got the desired momentum thanks to the flamboyance of skipper Amay Khurasia (81, 86b, 8x4, 1x6). But unfortunately none of the other batsmen showed the willingness to stay put in the face of the accurate, if not unplayable, bowling by Dodda Ganesh, who struck the first two blows.

The scores:

Central Zone: J. Yadav c Tilak Naidu b Ganesh 33, G. Khoda c Tilak Naidu b Ganesh 31, A. Khurasia lbw b Venkatesh Prasad 81, J. Martin c Venkatesh Prasad b Sriram 21, J.P. Yadav c Arjun Yadav b Balaji 14, Abbas Ali c Rowland b Balaji 0, N. Chopra c Sharath b Sriram 5, Naman Ohja c Tilak Naidu b Balaji 10, Murali Karthik c Tilak Naidu b Venkatesh Prasad 0, Harvinder Singh c Venkatesh Prasad b Ganesh 6, Sanjay Pandey (not out) 0. Extras: (13lb, 1nb, 5w) 19. Total: (in 45.5 overs) 220.

Fall of wickets: 1-72, 2-91, 3-147, 4-176, 5-176, 6-191, 7-213, 8-213, 9-215.

South Zone bowling: Prasad 9-0-43-2, Balaji 10-1-36-3, Ganesh 8.5-0-40-3, Venugopala Rao 10-0-43-0, Sriram 8-0-45-2.

South Zone: B. Rowland c Ohja b Harvinder 0, A.T. Rayudu c Ohja b Harvinder 1, N. Arjun Yadav (not out) 96, Hemang Badani c Chopra b Pandey 23, S. Sriram (not out) 89. Extras: (3lb, 8w, 1nb) 12. Total: (for three wkts in 38.5 overs) 221.

Fall of wickets: 1-0, 2-5, 3-60.

Central bowling: Harvinder 6.5-0-42-2, Pandey 9-0-34-1, J.P. Yadav 4-0-33-0, Chopra 10-1-37-0, Karthik 4-0-41-0, Abbas Ali 5-0-32-0.

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