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March 13, 2009
Naman Ojha's brilliant century went in vain as North Zone beat Central Zone by six wickets at the Ravenshaw College Ground. Ojha's 100 helped Central finish on 250, but twin fifties from Aakash Chopra and Virat Kohli ensured North overhauled the target in the 48th over. Electing to bat, Ojha and Rajesh Bishnoi put on a second-wicket stand of 56, before captain Mohmmad Kaif joined Ojha to consolidate further. Kaif played patiently for his 46 off 74 balls, stroking two fours and a six, while Ojha hit six boundaries and four sixes in his 111-ball stay. The 104-run partnership looked to have set the platform for a late assault but Vikramjeet Malik and Pradeep Sangwan bowled magnificently at the death to contain the opposition. Both bowlers picked up three wickets apiece as Central lost five batsmen for 50 runs in the last 10 overs. An opening stand of 89 between Chopra and Rahul Dewan set the tone during the chase. Chopra ended with 56, scoring eight boundaries during his 78-ball innings. Kohli then combined with captain Mithun Manhas (44) to take North closer, putting on 78 for the third wicket. Kohli remained unbeaten on 79 off 87 balls, comprising nine fours and a six, and together with Rajat Bhatia steered North home.
While captain Wasim Jaffer led from the front with a confident 81, the West Zone bowler's backed him up as West Zone thrashed South Zone by 71 runs at Barabati Stadium. Choosing to bat, West were off on the wrong foot with opening Parthiv Patel falling for 3. Jaffer then joined Mumbai team-mate Ajinkya Rahane to get the innings back on track. Having added 42 for the second wicket, Jaffer then combined with Cheteshwar Pujara to strengthen West further. The 60-run stand kept them in the hunt for a big total, but Sreesanth Aravind's impressive 4 for 41 pegged them back. Jaffer's 110-ball innings comprised three boundaries, and a late show from Ravindra Jadeja, who scored 39 from 44 balls, propped them up to 223. It was a daunting challenge for South who found themselves tottering at 64 for 5 in the 14th over, undone by the fast men Abhishek Nayar and Jitendra Patil. Manoj Sai's feeble attempt at a resurrection, with a 83-ball 47 did not help as Kamlesh Makvana and Iqbal Abdulla completed the formalities by the 43rd over.
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