East clinch victory despite Dravid ton
East Zone 274 for 5 (Saurabh Tiwary 73, Shukla 72) beat South Zone 252 (Dravid 139) by 23 runs
Rahul Dravid took South Zone close to their target of 275 with a fluent 138-ball 139, despite suffering cramps, but East Zone regrouped well during the death overs to cut them off when it really mattered. Where East had been so clinical during the latter half of their innings, after struggling initially, South offered little support to Dravid and they fell 23 runs short of victory in Hyderabad.
East's decision to bat didn't go down too well at the start and they were 28 for 2. Sourav Ganguly was tangled up in a poor call and ended up at the same end as his opening partner, Arindam Das, and Anustup Majumdar was excellently held by Robin Uthappa at gully off state mate R Vinay Kumar. Das was run out next for 32.
It took some counter-aggression from Manoj Tiwary (40 from 48 balls), who went over the top quite well inside the Powerplays, and Under-19 star Saurabh Tiwary (73 from 90) to get East towards a competitive total. After Manoj's dismissal Saurabh was joined by his captain, former India international Laxmi Ratan Shukla, and a frenetic 101-run stand followed. Tiwary was in good nick, setting himself in before going for his well-placed hits, whereas Shukla was looking for runs early in his innings.
His attitude paid off and some clean hitting at the end got him five sixes in an unbeaten 72 from 66 balls. It was truly a captain's knock. Wriddhiman Saha, the young wicketkeeper from Bengal, hit 21 in a sixth-wicket stand of 48 in four overs to get East to 274 for 5.
With VVS Laxman unable to bat after injuring a finger when he took Manoj's catch earlier in the day, South were always under pressure chasing a stiff target. Their two explosive openers, Uthappa and Dinesh Karthik, fell playing aggressive shots and it was left to Dravid's experience and class to see them out of danger. Dravid added 53 with Subramanian Badrinath, but their workmanlike stand was snapped when Ganguly bowled Badrinath for 20 in the 21st over.
That brought Arjun Yadav to the crease, and his energetic style of play kept runs ticking over comfortably. Yadav put on 83 with Dravid, scoring 42 from 51 balls, but a poor shot against Dhiraj Goswami sent him back in the 36th over. Dravid cramped up and required Karthik as a runner and the run rate quickly began to escalate.
Dravid was all compusure as he crossed his 21st List A century, sharing a fruitful stand with Vinay. A superb flick off the pads by through midwicket for four and a couple scampered singles in the 43rd over, followed by a deft nudge with short fine leg up off Ganguly's final over, kept the run rate within striking distance. But it was Ranadeb Bose's crucial dismissal of Vinay, bowled attempting an ugly swipe across the line to the last ball of the 47th over, that completely shut out South.
Running out of partners, Dravid swatted Goswami between midwicket and mid-on for four but fell just after, spooning a weary lofted drive to Ganguly, running back in the covers. Two needless run outs later and East where whooping it up on the field.
East took four points from this match and South none.