Allround Central knock out South
Central Zone 225 for 6 (Kaif 50, Ojha 2-39) beat South Zone 224 for 9 (Karthik 52, Saxena 3-39, B Kumar 3-43) by four wickets
Central Zone qualified for the semi-final of the Deodhar Trophy after an allround performance against South Zone in the opening game of the tournament at Mohali.
Chasing a modest total, Central Zone maintained a brisk run-rate to overhaul the target in the 40th over. Jalaj Saxena, who made 32 runs off 26 balls, and Naman Ojha, with 26 runs from 23 balls, set-up the platform with an attacking start to the chase against a weak South Zone bowling line-up. Only India left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha, who took 2 for 39, exercised some control over the batsmen. A half-century from Mohammad Kaif and solid contributions from Ashok Menaria (37) and a cameo by skipper Piyush Chawla (34 runs off 25 balls) knocked South Zone out of the competition.
A number of South Zone batsmen squandered starts to give the Central Zone bowlers an upper hand after Bhuvneshwar Kumar had removed openers Abhinav Mukund and Srikkanth Anirudha with only 40 runs on the board. Dinesh Karthik, the South Zone skipper, steadied the innings with a half-century, but the spin duo of Chawla and Saxena accounted for five wickets between them to derail the South's innings. Umesh Yadav, who was playing his first game after recovering from the shin injury he picked up in Australia, bowled a steady 10-over spell for 35 runs and picked up the wicket of D Ravi Teja.
Central Zone now travel to Dharamsala to play North Zone in the second semi-final on March 18.