Central Zone march into semi-finals
Central Zone 225 for 3 (Kaif 72*, Mishra 71) beat South Zone 222 (Ashwin 79, Mukund 67, RP Singh 3-60) by seven wickets
Central Zone turned in a dominant performance to dump South Zone out of the Deodhar Trophy and progress to a semi-final clash against West Zone on Monday.
After Suresh Raina sent South in, fast bowler Pankaj Singh struck twice in two balls in the second over to remove S Anirudha and G Satish. Opener Abhinav Mukund, who is fresh from a successful Vijay Hazare Trophy, was the only one of the South top six to pass 15, going on to make a patient 67. South captain, R Ashwin, known more for his offspin, walked in at 79 for 5 and stabilised the innings with the help of Mukund. The pair added 67 for the sixth wicket, with Ashwin making a 75-ball 79. Vinay Kumar also chipped in with a 16-ball 24 to take South to 222.
That hardly provided a challenge for Central's batsmen, who galloped to the target with more than 10 overs to spare. Both openers fell cheaply, but half-centuries from Monish Mishra and Mohammad Kaif, and a whirlwind unbeaten 49 from Raina, who lashed two sixes and four fours in his 27-ball innings, steered Central to the semi-finals. Fast bowler Sreesanth had a day to forget, being taken for 52 runs in his seven overs, to go with a golden duck after coming in at No. 9.