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January 15, 2004
East Zone 227 for 9 (Kiran Powar 56) beat West Zone 226 for 8
(Kanitkar 57, Paul 4-36) by 1 wicket with 1 ball to spare
The last-wicket pair added 10 crucial runs as East Zone squeaked home from the penultimate ball of their opening encounter against West Zone at Siliguri. Shib Sankar Paul and Saurasish Lahiri were the men who held their nerve in the final over, which was bowled by Ranjit Khirid, as the game peaked to a tense climax. Kiran Powar, who composed a 58-ball 56 and shared a valuable 50-run stand with Laxmi Ratan Shukla (28), had laid the platform. Munaf Patel was the most successful of the Mumbai bowlers with 3 for 34, including the vital wicket of Powar. Paul was instrumental in restricting the powerful West Zone batting line-up to only 226. Vinayak Mane consumed 56 balls for his 29, and it was left to Hrishikesh Kanitkar to hold the innings together with a sedate 57. Utpal Chatterjee bowled a tidy spell and West didn't get the late-innings impetus that they could have done with.
South Zone 217 (Ramesh 97, Venugopal 54, Abbas 6-25) beat Central Zone 155 by 62 runs
Sadagoppan Ramesh stroked a priceless 97 as South Zone recorded an easy 62-run win in a low-scoring game at Silchar. Ramesh's innings was studded with nine fours, and his 111-run stand with Venugopal Rao should have been the ideal launching pad. But Ramesh fell in the 39th over, and then Syed Abbas Ali, the offspinner, began his torment of the batsmen. He finished with excellent figures of 6 for 25 as the lower order floundered against his wiles. But 217 proved to be more than enough, ash Central Zone, lost wickets at regular intervals. At 107 for 8 they were in dire straits, but Anup Dave, from Rajasthan, hit a gritty 36 and reduced the margin of defeat considerably. Tinu Yohannan snapped up 3 for 41 while Sreekumar Nair, his Kerala team-mate, bettered that with 3 for 12.
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