February 27, 2002

Kanitkar leads West Zone to comfortable win

Staff Reporter

In a match that was delayed by two hours due to wet conditions from overnight rains, Hrishikesh Kanitkar struck an unbeaten 79 to guide West Zone to a comfortable three-wicket win over East Zone at Delhi on Tuesday.

When the match finally got under way, West Zone won the toss and opted to field first, hoping to use the conditions for some early swing and seam. Opener Debang Gandhi fell early, but a 97-run partnership between Rajiv Kumar and Pravanjan Mullick followed.

Mullick got to 50 off 71 balls and promptly gave RF Morris a return catch to end his innings on that score. Rajiv Kumar brought up his 50 and did the same, falling on that very score.

Thereafter it was all Laxmi Ratan Shukla, who hit a blazing 64 off just 30 balls before falling as the sixth wicket with the score on 200. Shukla hit nine fours and two sixes in his knock. West Zone did not take too much longer to mop up the tail, and East Zone were dismissed for 211 in 40 overs, 10 overs remaining unused.

In such a situation, all West needed was one batsman to stand his ground and play a sensible innings. Vinod Kambli looked to be the one, but he made only 48 off 45 balls, with seven fours and one six, before falling to Utpal Chatterjee. West then found its responsible man in Kanitkar, whose 79 was a sedately paced knock featuring five fours and one six.

West Zone brought up the target in only 38 overs, surviving an anxious situation of being 170/7 when Sairaj Bahutule fell.