Zaheer continues comeback trail
West ZoneIn his second match in two days, Zaheer Khan, making a comeback from his shoulder injury, took two wickets to keep Gujarat down to 160. Rohit Sharma and wicketkeeper Aditya Tare chased the target easily to give Ranji champions Mumbai their second win, at the Deccan Gymkhana Ground in Pune. After Zaheer's two top-order strikes, Jay Desai's quick 41 and Bhavik Thaker (30 off 28 balls) looked to have given Gujarat the upper hand. The two compiled 58 for the fourth wicket to help them end on 160. Paul Valthaty provided some solidity during Mumbai's reply, but at 79 for 3 in the ninth over, it was Rohit and Tare who took them through with nine balls to spare. While Rohit hit three fours and two sixes during his 33-ball 43, Tare clubbed five boundaries and two sixes en route to 49 off 36 balls.
An all-round show from Ganesh Gaikwad took Maharashtra to their first victory of the tournament, with a narrow two-wicket win against Gujarat at the Pune Club Ground. Chirag Pathak (26) looked to have given Gujarat a solid start batting first, but two crucial strikes each from Sajin Sureshnath and Gaikwad kept them to 107. Gaikwad was once again at the forefront during the reply, securing the Maharashtra innings when they were stuttering at 51 for 4. His breezy 23-ball 33, comprising five fours took Maharashtra to safety, and Kiran Adhav and Sureshnath then sealed the victory with seven balls to spare.
Parvez Aziz's lightning 74 helped Assam continue their winning ways, with a 35-run win against Bengal at the Railway Stadium in Dhanbad. Opting to bat, Assam got off to a strong start with openers Aziz and Avijit Roy putting on 110 by the 13th over. Aziz tore into the opposition bowlers, smashing six fours and six sixes during his 44-ball innings. Offspinner Saurashish Lahiri picked up three quick wickets to keep Assam to 157. Bengal replied strongly during the chase, with Wriddhiman Saha and Deep Dasgupta putting on an opening stand of 53. But once Sairaj Bahutule made the initial inroads, Dhiraj Goswami and Sarupam Purkaystha ran through the middle and lower order, picking up three and two wickets respectively, to wrap up the Bengal innings in 17.4 overs.
Orissa picked up their first points of the tournament, thrashing Tripura by 65 runs at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Dhanbad. Choosing to bat, Orissa were boosted by a string of forties from three of their top four batsmen. Having lost Natraj Behera for 7, Paresh Patel (41 off 39) and Niranjan Behera anchored the innings with a second-wicket stand of 50. Niranjan, who remained unbeaten on 44 off 42 balls, then combined with Rashmi Das to take them near the 140-mark. Das became Rana Dutta's second victim, having hit four boundaries and two sixes during his 25-ball 45, as Orissa ended on 154. Having been dismissed for the lowest Twenty20 score ever in the previous match, Tripura's disappointment continued as they folded for 89, with Patel being the pick of the Orissa bowlers with 3 for 16.
Medium-pacer Jitender Billa's three-wicket burst helped Haryana seal a 10-run win over Himachal Pradesh in Delhi. In pursuit of 147, HP lost early wickets but recovered to reach 126 for 4, with 21 needed off 9 balls. Billa then removed Abhinav Bali, who had threatened with a 45-ball 54, and dismissed Rishi Dhawan to ensure HP were beaten. Joginder Sharma supported Billa with two wickets. Haryana's competitive score owed largely to an aggressive half-century from opener Ankit Rawat and some hitting at the death by Sachin Rana.
Sunny Sohal and Ravi Inder Singh both scored 42 to deliver a strong start for Punjab, but their efforts were in vain as Delhi overhauled a target of 137 at the Palam A Ground with little difficulty. Barring the opening partnership of 75 between Sohal and Ravi Inder for Punjab, there was little support from the batsmen who followed. Rajat Bhatia impressed with three wickets and also starred with the bat, scoring an unbeaten 37, while boosted by important contributions from the middle order, to take Delhi home with five wickets and five balls to spare.
Wicketkeeper Manvinder Bisla's hurricane 75 handed Jammu & Kashmir a convincing nine-wicket victory against Services at the Palam A Ground. Mumtaz Qadir propped up Services to 127 with 51, including eight boundaries. He played a lone hand as the J&K bowlers, led by Samiullah Beigh (3 for 15), kept chipping away to prevent any batsman from playing a support role. While the opening stand for J&K yielded 57, Bisla and Hiken Shah's unbeaten second-wicket partnership put on 71 to end Services' hopes. Bisla smashed six fours and a six as J&K sealed the win with five balls to go.
Monish Mishra blitzed 84 off 37 balls to lead Madhya Pradesh to a comfortable six-wicket victory against Vidarbha in Indore. Chasing 164, Mishra hammered 10 fours and five sixes and by the time he was dismissed with the score on 118 in the 11th over, his team was comfortably placed. Jalaj Saxena and Abbas Ali scored 24 each as Madhya Pradesh reached the target with 15 balls to spare. Earlier Alind Naidu had scored 55 off 41 balls and Shalabh Shrivastava 44 off 27 to lead Vidarbha to 163 for 6 in 20 overs.