North gain massive win
A match that looked to be heading for a draw swung North Zone's way spectacularly, as East Zone crashed from a position of safety to a crushing 434-run defeat on day four at Rajkot
North Zone 360 (Manhas 88, Nanda 58, Mishra 52, Paul 5-106) and 459 for 2 (Chopra 205*, Manhas 205*) beat East Zone 143 (Saha 56, VRV 5-59) and 243 (Vardhan 83, Majumdar 82) by 433 runs
A match that looked to be heading for a draw swung North Zone's way spectacularly, as East Zone crashed from a position of safety to a crushing 434-run defeat on day four in Rajkot. Chasing a mammoth 677 for victory East had progressed to 238 for 3, thanks to gritty half-centuries from Manish Vardhan and Anustup Majumdar, but a run out opportunity shortly before tea triggered the most dramatic of collapses, and six wickets fell for just five runs.
East began the day on 28 for 1 and with little chance of winning this game and stopping North from entering the final. They were soon 70 for 3 but Vardhan and Majumdar applied themselves admirably to defy North for over 40 overs. Both refrained from risky singles and instead collected useful boundaries as North's attack lost a bit of fight.
But late into the second session, it all came apart. Vardhan worked the ball to midwicket and called for a single; substitute fielder Joginder Sharma swooped in, collected cleanly, and nailed a direct hit to get rid of Majumdar for a well-made 82.
What happened next was unbelievable - first-innings hero VRV Singh and Amit Mishra, the legspinner, ran loops around the lower order. VRV forced Halhadar Das to pop a catch to Joginder, Mishra snapped up Vardhan for 83, VRV cleaned up Tushar Saha and the tail had no answer.
North will now face West Zone from February 19-23 at Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium.