East Zone v South Zone, Deodhar Trophy, Ahmedabad February 26, 2007

Gavaskar guides East home in last-ball thriller

Cricinfo staff

East Zone 271 for 9 (Gavaskar 79*, Aziz 56) beat South Zone 270 for 8 (Asnodkar 107, Laxman 35) by 1 wicket
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

A patient unbeaten 79 by Rohan Gavaskar guided East Zone to a tense one-wicket win against South Zone at Ahmedabad. Swapnil Asnodkar's run-a-ball 107 propped South to 270, a total which proved to be competitive in the end as East were made to sweat it out after cruising along at one stage, scampering home off the last ball.

Ranadeb Bose, coming in at No.10, gave Gavaskar company in the final over, needing five off six balls. Bose, playing and missing, never looked like scoring a run and ultimately sacrificed his wicket to give Gavaskar the strike. However Syed Sahabuddin, the Andhra seamer coming off a good Ranji Trophy season, made the mistake of spraying the ball at a driveable length outside off stump, allowing Gavaskar to swing across the line and fetch an easy two to snatch the victory.

The eventual result justified Deep Dasgupta's decision to insert the opposition, probably taking the cue from West Zone's victory yesterday. The openers, Parvez Aziz and Wriddhiman Saha got off to a flier, scoring at nearly seven an over before Saha departed for 15, caught behind off seamer Sahabuddin. Aziz meanwhile traded in boundaries, belting 50 runs in fours and sixes alone, regularly planting his front-foot down to the seamers who were often guilty of spraying the ball full and wide. A miscued pull off Vinay Kumar ended his knock but his breezy 56 laid the platform for the middle order to cash in and build steady partnerships.

Abhishek Jhunjhunwala and Manoj Tiwary, one of the stars in Bengal's Ranji Trophy campaign, failed to convert their starts, thereby allowing South to claw back with the score at 139 for 4. Gavaskar and Dasgupta, the most recognised pair, buckled down and brought their experience into play with a 79-run stand. Both showed an inclination to graft it out against the spinners and a comfortable victory was in sight.

However, a sudden lapse of concentration from Dasgupta, hitting straight down long-on's throat off Pragyan Ojha, opened the gates again for South. Laxmi Ratan Shukla and Shibsagar Singh fell in quick succession and the pressure was right back on East with the required rate creeping up. Gavaskar eased the tension with some sensible batting, sensing every opportunity to pick up an extra run to hog the strike and dispatched the poor deliveries in his chanceless knock.

The early honours belonged to Asnodkar who struck his third century in domestic limited overs cricket. He was particularly fluent on the off side, smashing a majority of his 14 boundaries in that direction. Anything off line was punished by Asnodkar who was quick on his feet. Shib Shanker Paul, the Bengal seamer returning after an injury layoff, came in for some punishment in his seven over spell, conceding 46 runs. Asnodkar's breezy knock and his half-century stands with VVS Laxman and Venugopal Rao meant that a score of close to 300 was on the cards.

Arjun Yadav maintained the momentum with a quick 25 off 21 balls but East pulled things back with a couple of quick blows, courtesy of Singh's left-arm spin in the slog overs. Bose chipped in with two wickets to restrict the opposition to 270.