Utkarsh Singh’s 104-ball 89 helped East Zone thrash Central Zone by six wickets in the Deodhar Trophy match at the Cricket Association of Puducherry (CAP) Ground 3 on Monday.
Shahbaz Ahmed (three for 30), Akash Deep (three for 35) and Mani Shankar Murasinghe (three for 29) batted left-handed to beat the 208-run target after cheapening the central zone.
Utkarsh was out of the blocks with a hint of streak as he cut hard outside off and collected boundaries from the edges. Abhimanyu Eswaran, on the other hand, was slow to start but soon fell victim to the pacers’ full deliveries with wrist flicks and elegant drives, while Utkarsh pounced on the small stuff.
The openers added 91 runs for the first wicket in 19 overs, forcing Venkatesh Iyer to roll up his sleeves as he avoided bowling late.
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Karn Sharma then took two wickets, but Central’s celebrations were understandable. East Zone returned home with 23 balls to spare as Subransu Senapathy scored an unbeaten 33 off 65 balls.
Earlier, Rinku Singh’s level-headedness was bookended by his teammates’ batting collapse. After electing to field the East Zone, its pacers capitalized on the overcast conditions and hit the ball on a string outside the off stump in the short area of good length area. Openers Madhav Kaushik and Aryan Juyal batted cautiously and conceded just 26 runs in the first 10 overs.
Central’s cause was not helped by the retirement of Joel, the more assertive of the two, after trying to steal a quick single in the 12th over. Kaushik’s 13 off 47 came to an end when he tried to cut Shahbaz Ahmed’s ball after showing signs of breaking with a slog sweep to the boundary. Skipper Venkatesh, looking to suppress the spin, became Shahbaz’s second victim when he was trapped leg before while playing backfoot.
Akash was rewarded with a wicket for his discipline in the first spell, Yash Dubey poked down the corridor in the second, Shahbaz in the third and Shivam Chaudhary died trying to crank it through the gears.
Karn put up a defiant 58 with Rinku as the left-handed pair found gaps and pinched the spinners for one and two. Rinku’s first scoring shot of the day was a flat-batted swat, reminiscent of his legendary 31-run fifth six in the last over of IPL 2023. were present. Finally, a delivery from Mursingh fell low, leg-before him, and the last six wickets in the central zone were lost for 35 runs, with Akash and Mursingh doing damage with their variations.
Juel returned to the crease and hit a couple of fours to push the total past 200, but the central zone kept falling.