Clinical West march into finals with convincing win
West Zone 335 for 8 (Pujara 86, Rahane 76, Yusuf 59, Jadeja 42, Pankaj 4-38) beat Central Zone 119 (Jadeja 4-8) by 216 runs
West Zone turned in an all-round effort that totally outclassed Central Zone in an exceedingly one-sided 216-run victory, at the Moti Bagh Stadium.
Central won the toss and little else, on a day when they were dominated almost from the outset. Chirag Pathak's early dismissal gave them a handy start after they decided to field first, but Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara weighed in with classy knocks that easily nullified the early loss. Rahane dropped anchor and kept one end up while Pujara unleashed an attractive array of strokes. Both batsmen hit a couple of sixes each and a handful of boundaries, but were unable to go on to three figures. Pankaj Singh stalled West's progress, picking three quick wickets after the 154-run partnership, to finish with creditable figures of 4 for 38. However, Yusuf Pathan and Ravindra Jadeja changed the complexion of the game completely in the last ten overs, off which West plundered 126 runs. Both the India allrounders took a liking to the length-offerings from Sudeep Tyagi and RP Singh, as well as Suresh Raina's part-time offspin. Yusuf raced to a 24-ball 59, while Jadeja was unbeaten on 42 off 18 balls.
The stuffing had been knocked out of Central and their token effort at chasing the mammoth 336 never took off. Despite early drops from Rohit Sharma and Dhawal Kulkarni, the top-order could not capitalize, and wickets fell at regular intervals. Munaf Patel was unlucky not to be rewarded in his tight spell, but Dhawal Kulkarni and Jayesh Odedra chipped in with two scalps apiece. Central were in deep trouble when the in-form Mohammad Kaif fell to a leading edge after closing the face of his bat too soon against Kulkarni. When Suresh Raina dragged his foot out of the crease, in front of an alert Parthiv Patel, the chase was practically over. Jadeja hastened the end with his incisive brand of left-arm spin, as West marched into the final to be played tomorrow, where they will face North Zone, at the same venue.