Fazal half-century helps Central clinch title
Central Zone 164 for 5 (Fazal 58, Chawla 33*) beat South Zone 163 (Dravid 51, Kanojia 3-29, Chawla 3-47) by five wickets
Central Zone, riding on Faiz Fazal's 95-ball 58, and a fine all-round display from Piyush Chawla, who took 3 for 47 before scoring an unbeaten 33, defeated South Zone by five wickets to clinch the 2007-08 Deodhar Trophy. Central lead the standings with 15 points after three consecutive wins, and though there's a chance of West finishing on equal points, Central will keep the title by virtue of having defeated West.
Chasing 164 for victory, Central began aggressively, with Naman Ojha leading the way with a 30-ball 29. Central lost Naman and Suresh Raina within the space of three overs, but Fazal did not let that affect his concentration, picking up runs without taking any risks. Pragyan Ojha, the left-arm spinner, briefly threatened with two quick wickets: he had Mohammad Kaif top-edging a slog-sweep before having Himalaya Sagar stumped with a well-flighted ball.
Chawla quickly diminished South's hopes, blasting two fours and a six as he countered the spinners. Central lost a wicket against the run of play when Fazal holed out to Pragyan while trying to take on S Badrinath's offspin. But with only 24 runs required, Rohit Sharma made his way to a brisk 21 not out, finishing things off by launching Vinay Kumar beyond the midwicket boundary.
South were in trouble as soon as their innings began when both Robin Uthappa and Bharat Chipli fell victim to the swing of Praveen Kumar. Seamer Rajesh Kanojia then struck twice in quick time, dismissing Badrinath and Dinesh Karthik as South collapsed to 41 for 4. But Rahul Dravid, who looked solid during his 70-ball 51, and Arjun Yadav (41) led the rescue act with 56-run fifth-wicket stand.
Once Dravid departed, South's lower order folded up without putting up a fight. Chawla bowled C Raghu and Vinay, both of whom failed to pick up his wrong 'un before Kanojia returned to have Yadav caught behind. Chawla picked up his third when he had Saurabh Bandekar nicking to the keeper, and soon enough, Raina brought the innings to a close when he dismissed Pragyan.