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February 17, 2006
A good spell from their opening bowlers and a rousing half-century from Robin Uthappa helped Karnataka defeat Tamil Nadu by six wickets and win the South Zone league phase at Hyderabad. Despite the loss, TN - second in the points table - have progressed into the knock-out round of matches beginning next month. With Vinay Kumar (3 for 31) and NC Aiyappa (3 for 31) reaping rewards on a pitch that assisted the medium pacers well, TN's top order capitulated to 77 for 7 before Rajagopal Sathish (43) held out to see his side to 144 in 45 overs. With Uthappa maintaining the run chase in a positive vein, Karnataka had little to worry about despite losing a couple wickets up the order. They required just 29.2 overs to overhaul TN's score and remain unbeaten in the round-robin phase.
Goa clinched a thriller off the final ball of the match at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium as Hyderabad suffered their fifth straight loss. Set 227 to win, Goa were cruising at 148 for 1 after Sagun Kamat (81), R Sarvankar (32) and Sandesh Dhuri (46) had begun well, but tight bowling in the middle stage of the innings triggered a collapse to leave them at 161 for 7. Kapil Angle then upped the tempo by smashing 29 from 13 but two more strikes in the 48th over saw the match swing the host's way. Victory was achieved off the final ball of Goa's innings, with A Patnekar and Anil Naik seeing their side through to an exciting - but ultimately inconsequential - victory. Incidentally, no Hyderabad batsman crossed the high-thirties as Sher Yadav (3 for 44), Narayan Kambli (2 for 47) and Robin D'Souza (2 for 40) kept a check on proceedings.
Kerala held their own to pull off a surprise 33-run win over Andhra Pradesh in Secunderabad, with Prasanth Chandran (3 for 33) dismissing Andhra for 236 in 48.1 overs. Gnaneswara Rao (56), Ambati Rayadu (37) - who had earlier taken 4 for 45 with the ball - and MSK Prasad (37) all failed to sustain the momentum as Chandran and the rest of the Kerala attack struck at key intervals. Kerala's total of 269 for 8 was down to productive innings from Vasudevan Jagadeesh (84), Raiphi Gomez (83), and Anil Kumar (43).
Dheeraj Jadhav hit a fine 91 to steer Maharashtra to a three-wicket win over Mumbai at the Alembic Ground in Vadodara. After a disciplined bowling performance restricted Mumbai to 224 Jadhav put on an 88-run opening stand with Sangram Chavan to set up a perfect platform for the run chase. Nilesh Kulkarni removed Jadhav with the score on 168 for 4 before Rajesh Verma winkled out two more wickets but Abhishek Raut (23 not out) guided the tail to take Maharashtra home. With this win Maharashtra stay in the race with 7 points from three games while Mumbai have 10 from four matches.
Powered by a four-wicket haul from Irfan Safi Pathan, Baroda bowled out Saurashtra for a paltry 169 before knocking off the target in 37.2 overs to win the last West Zone league game at Vadodara. While Pathan rocked the top order, picking up four of the top five, Dakshay Vohra (3 for 27) cleaned up the lower middle-order to restrict Saurashtra. Connor Williams hit 68 and shared a 94-run opening stand with Rishikesh Parab (38) to ease Baroda to a comfortable victory. Baroda are well placed with 9 points from three games and have a good chance of making it to the next round.
Amrinder Singh's left-arm spin did the trick as Services shocked Punjab to come up trumps by two runs in Palam and usher in some excitement into the North Zone league phase. The loss put Punjab at 13 points - tied with Himachal Pradesh - with both teams set to play one match each. Sumit Tomar (103) and Yashpal Singh (71) led Services to 261 despite a fine display of offspin from Rajesh Sharma (5 for 29). In response, Punjab's casual approach towards the run chase saw them slip to defeat with Amrinder reaping 5 for 50. Vipul Sharma, Ishan Malhotra and Sandeep Sanwal were all victims of self-inflicted run-outs as Punjab threw the game away in the final overs. Only Pankaj Dharmani (61) and Ravneet Rickey (45) offered any resistance before Amrinder exploited the complacency in the Punjab ranks with two wickets in the final over of the match.
Delhi beat Haryana by 36 runs at the Feroz Shah Kotla after Mithun Manhas (97) and Aakash Chopra (85) had taken them to 291 for 5. Kunal Lal (3 for 31) then produced a fine display of left-arm fast bowling to pave the way for Delhi's victory. Sumit Sharma (82), Haryana's opener, and Shafiq Khan (70) led a brave fightback but Lal removed Shafiq at a crucial stage to swing the game Delhi's way. Ishant Sharma (3 for 44) was forced to leave the field after splitting the webbing in his bowling hand while Narender Negi injured his nose while attempting to catch a skier at fine leg. Despite these hiccups, Delhi wrapped up the win in 49 overs. Haryana, at nine points, needs a victory with a bonus point in its last match against Jammu and Kashmir to qualify.
Sandeep Sharma's 104 paved the way for Himachal Pradesh's 48-run win over Jammu and Kashmir at the Harbax Singh Stadium in Delhi. Blazing his way to a 151-run opening stand in 28.2 overs with Nischal Gaur (61), Sharma's 98-ball innings gave HP the impetus for a late-overs onslaught; however, Hardeep Singh (3 for 33) struck telling blows to restrict them to 260. Kavaljit Singh (84) and Arshad Bhatt (53) then threatened to take the game away from HP, but harakiri in the middle accounted for four run-outs as J&K lost their way after the 40th over to finish on 212.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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