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Irfan Pathan's 3 for 10 flattens North Zone

File photo - Irfan Pathan carved up the North Zone top order AFP

Irfan Pathan's three-wicket burst set up West Zone's eight-wicket win over North Zone with 7.2 overs to spare.

Needing only 108 for a win, captain Parthiv Patel, who scored a 35-ball 56, and Shreyas Iyer (30) blasted away with an eye on their net run-rate, which is no longer in the red. They added 80 for the first wicket in nine overs before Iyer charged out of the crease to offspinner Parvez Rasool and missed the ball to be trapped lbw. In the 12th over, Parthiv, attempting to back away and slog, was bowled by Mohit Sharma, but Aditya Tare sewed up the game in the next over with a flurry of boundaries.

North Zone, in contrast, limped to 31 for 4 in the Powerplay after they were inserted in the morning. Irfan first dismissed Shikhar Dhawan, who had made a half-century on Sunday, in the third over. In his next over, he accounted for Rishabh Pant and Yuvraj Singh, who was out for a first-ball duck, off successive deliveries, with Deepak Hooda taking both the catches. He gave away only 10 runs in his four-over spell.

That North Zone managed a three-digit total was entirely due to Gautam Gambhir (60 off 58 balls), who scored his second fifty in as many matches. With only two other batsmen scoring 10 or above, Gambhir waged a lone battle till the final over. His pull shot against Shardul Thakur off the penultimate delivery didn't clear Pravin Tambe at square leg. Seamers Thakur (1 for 29) and Ishwar Chaudhary (1 for 23) complemented Irfan with tidy spells.

Ishan Kishan's 36-ball 67 ensured East Zone began their campaign with a seven-wicket win over Central Zone at the Wankhede Stadium. After the bowlers restricted Central Zone to 151, Kishan hit seven sixes during his maiden T20 half-century, helping East Zone chase down the target with seven wickets and 17 balls to spare.

Ishank Jaggi provided the other major contribution in East Zone's pursuit with an unbeaten 51 off 37 balls. He and Kishan added 71 runs off 41 balls for the second wicket after Shrivats Goswami was run-out backing up too far at the non-striker's end when Kishan's drive deflected off bowler Karn Sharma's hands on to the stumps.

Eighteen-year-old Kishan made Central Zone pay dearly after he was dropped on 10 off Aniket Choudhary's bowling in the fourth over. He was severe on the spinners, particularly legspinner Karn and left-armer Mahipal Lomror, and carted them repeatedly in the arc between long-on and deep midwicket. In the 13th over, Ishan smashed Lomror for two sixes off successive deliveries and attempted a third. Lomror saw the batsman jump out of the crease and fired it wide, and Kishan could only manage a top-edged a slash to backward point. Jaggi, though, stayed till the end and saw the team home.

Earlier in the afternoon, East Zone captain Manoj Tiwary won the toss and did what other teams have been doing in the tournament - bowl first and restrict the batting side to a moderate total. Central Zone slumped to 2 for 2 in the first over - first Lomror was run out following a collision with captain Naman Ojha and then Ambati Rayudu edged behind an expansive drive.

Ojha (51 off 48 balls) and Harpreet Singh Bhatia (48 off 43), who scored a half-century on Sunday, stitched together a 76-run stand in 71 balls. The scoring rate never received a significant boost and Ojha continued to struggle after Bhatia's dismissal in the 13th over. When Ojha was out off the last ball of the innings, Central Zone had nudged their total past 150, thanks largely to Mahesh Rawat's late hitting. It, however, was not enough.