Chopra guides North Zone home

North Zone 249 and 118 for 5 (Chopra 43) beat Central Zone 154 and 211 by 5 wickets

After a solid start, North Zone hiccupped before reaching the target of 117 and won by five wickets in Gurgaon. Aakash Chopra's 43 turned out to be a vital contribution and he fell just before the end. Chopra and Gautam Gambhir got North off to a solid start as they put on 51 in quick time. Murali Kartik, the left-arm spinner, got one to sneak through Gambhir's defence and Narender Hirwani gave Central Zone a remote chance of victory when he snapped up three quick wickets. Yuvraj Singh, Dinesh Mongia and Mithun Manhas were all cleaned up by Hirwani. But Ajay Ratra and Joginder Sharma ensured against a collapse and added 20 crucial runs in the end. Central were on the back foot on the first day itself, when Amit Bhandari and Joginder picked up three wickets each and dismissed them for only 154. Manhas's dogged 68 was instrumental in giving North the first-innings lead, before Central batsmen faltered again. A target of 117 was never going to be formidable and North enhanced their chances of making the final next month.