Kambli, Martin fireworks ensure West victory
Quickfire fifties from Vinod Kambli and captain Jacob Martin saw West Zone defeat South Zone in a rain-affected Deodhar tie at Burlton Park, Jullundur.
In the morning, South Zone, who opted to bat, were racing along comfortably at 53 for one in 8.3 overs when rain made its first intervention. When play resumed after an hour-long stoppage, the batsmen found run-making relatively difficult. The fall of two quick wickets, those of opener Jacob Arunkumar (32 off 44 balls) and Yalaka Venugopal Rao (0), also did not help matters.
Hemang Badani and new man, Vijay Bharadwaj, rightly decided to eschew flamboyant strokes preferring instead to milk the bowling. The two experienced South Zone stars put on 69 runs before Badani was dismissed for a well-made 62, including six boundaries, in the 29th over.
Bharadwaj took over from thereon. The Karnataka batsman made 74 off 82 balls with five fours and one lusty six as South Zone reached 215 for six in 41.4 overs before the skies opened yet again.
With a substantial period of play being lost, West were set a daunting revised target of 198 off 29 overs. But they galloped after it in earnest pursuit, opener Robin Morris, who made 35 off just 20 balls, leading the charge.
After Morris became the second wicket to fall with the score on 78 in the ninth over, Kambli and Martin took over. Putting all their experience and stroke-making abilities to good use, the duo ensured that West were always well ahead of the asking run-rate. But the dismissals of Martin, who made 53 off 49 balls, and Kambli, who made 63 off 69 balls, in the end overs threatened to ruin West's party. Hrishikesh Kanitkar and Ajit Bhoite, though, kept their heads and guided West home with just a ball to spare. Bhardawaj, who claimed three wickets bowling his off-spinners, was the most successful bowler for South. West Zone were rewarded with five points for their efforts.