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January 28, 2004
East Zone 324 for 4 (Dhoni 114, Shukla 55*, Haldipur 52) beat Central Zone 182 (Jai P Yadav 50, Lahiri 3-15) by 142 runs
Mahendra Dhoni cracked a fine 114 and helped East Zone amass a mammoth 324 for 4 against Central Zone at Jamshedpur. Central got nowhere near the target and with the fourth successive win in the tournament, East were crowned champions. This was the first time since the 1996-97 season that they had won the trophy. Nikhil Haldipur and Dhoni, the two openers, gave their team a blazing start by adding 108 in just 89 balls. Dhoni shared two more valuable partnerships through the course of the innings; 61 with Kiran Powar and 74 with Laxmi Ratan Shukla and these propelled East to 324. Central lost both their openers early and Jai Prakash Yadav (50) was the only batsmen to pass 30. Sanjib Sanyal (3-34) and Saurasish Lahiri were the pick of the bowlers and snapped up three wickets apiece.
West Zone 161 for 4 beat North Zone 160 for 8 (Munaf 3-23) by 6 wickets
North Zone stumbled to their third defeat in as many matches after managing only 160 against West Zone at Silchar. After opting to bat first, North were pegged back early as Munaf Patel got rid of Gautam Gambhir and Dinesh Mongia. Ajay Jadeja fell soon, and it was left to Mithun Manhas (44) to hold things together. North managed to reach a modest total thanks to some contributions from the lower order. But it all proved too little as West Zone cantered home with 12.1 overs to spare. Satyajit Parab (38) and Vinayak Mane (29) set up the platform and Niraj Patel (33 not out) and Ranjit Khirid (30 not out) finished the job easily. With this defeat, North languish at he bottom of the table. The final two matches on January 31 will only be of academic interest and East Zone will get to savour their triumph with a well-earned rest.
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