The Combined Zonal Cricket Academies (ZCA) side was handed a sound thrashing by the National Cricket Academy (NCA) at the RSI Grounds in Bangalore today. After winning the toss and electing to bat, the ZCA boys could put together only a modest 204 all out in 41 overs. In response, NCA openers Gautam Gambhir (120) and Gulzar Singh (79) put on an unbeaten opening partnership 205 in just 31.4 overs to send the bowlers scurrying for cover, taking their side to a handsome ten wicket win in the process. Due to overnight rain, the start of play was delayed and the match was reduced to 45 overs a side.
The day began well for the Combined ZCA side as openers Paul Valthaty (35) and Ritesh Jaiswal put on 61 for the first wicket before the former was scalped by Raza Ali. With Stuart Binny, son of former Indian all-rounder Roger Binny, playing a breezy knock of 44 (39 balls, 3 fours, 2 sixes) it looked like the Combined ZCA side might post a good total. At the fall of Binny's wicket however, the collapse began. With none of the remaining batsmen reaching even 15, the NCA side were able to restrict the Combined ZCA team total. Left arm seamer and former India Under-19 cricketer Shallabh Srivastav with 4/46 was easily the pick of the bowlers.
If the Combined ZCA side had thoughts of making early inroads and a match of it, they had another thing coming. Delhi southpaw Gambhir settled the matter with a superb unbeaten century. His 120 came off just 102 balls. Striking the ball crisply to the fence on 17 occasions, Gambhir dominated the scoring. But Gulzar Inder Singh, was not far behind. The right hand bat struck six boundaries and two sixes on the way to a 91-ball 79. In all, there was little the inexperienced Combined ZCA bowlers could do. Apart from Bihar's Mihir Diwakar, who conceded only 18 runs in five overs, all the others took some stick.