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January 24, 2004
East Zone 243 for 9 (Dhoni 65, Kiran Powar 65, Nair 5-29) beat South Zone 240 for 5 (Venugopal Rao 104*) by 1 wicket with 1 ball to spare
East Zone maintained their winning streak as they recorded their second one-wicket win of the campaign against South Zone at Agartala. Venugopal Rao slammed an unbeaten 104 and held the South innings together as wickets fell at regular intervals. Sadagoppan Ramesh and Sridharan Sriram, the formidable duo from Tamil Nadu, didn't kick on to a big score and it was left to Ajay Kudva (34) to provide Venugopal with some support. Venugopal stroked six fours in his 123-ball innings. But it went in vain due to two breezy 65's from Mahendra Dhoni and Kiran Powar. Nikhil Haldipur (30) and Devang Gandhi (21) chipped in and at 142 for 3 East were cruising towards a comfortable win. That is when Sreekumar Nair, the left-arm spinner, turned on the heat and his five wicket haul almost derailed the East innings. But Anirban Chatterjee (10) held his nerve and East scraped home with a ball to spare.
Central Zone 250 (Khoda 76, JP Yadav 62) beat North Zone 199 (Chopra 50, Dave 5-33) by 51 runs
Gagan Khoda and Jai Prakash Yadav posted half-centuries before Anup Dave did the trick with the ball to lead Central Zone to an easy win over North Zone at Cuttack. Chasing 251 for victory, North began disastrously as they were reduced to 2 for 2, but Aakash Chopra steadied the ship with a steady 50. Mithun Manhas (35) and Ajay Jadeja (44), his two team-mates from Delhi, kept North in the hunt before Dave dashed their hopes. The left-arm spinner finished with 5 for 33 and he picked up the important wickets of Chopra and Jadeja. Two run-outs didn't help matters and Central romped home by 51 runs. Central had begun confidently with the bat when Tejinder Pal Singh and khoda, the captain, put on 91 for the opening stand. After Tejinder was run-out, Yadav joined Khoda and they realised 77 runs. Amit Mishra and Dinesh Mongia collected two wickets each as wickets tumbled towards the end and Central finished on exactly 250.
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