South Zone handed this season's overseas imports, the Zimbabwe President's XI, defeat in their first match of the tournament. A good performance in the field limited the tourists to 193 and then half-centuries from Arjun Yadav and R Ashwin helped South to a three-wicket win at the Ravenshaw College Ground.
Prosper Utseya's decision to bat first didn't work out as planned. Despite a 41-run partnership for the first wicket, the openers were dismissed in consecutive openers and Utseya, coming in at No. 3, made a duck as the Zimbabweans slipped to 44 for 3. Stuart Matsikenyeri (36) and Forster Mutizwa (40) helped resuscitate the innings through their 79-run alliance, only for the pair to be sent back in the space of 12 deliveries. The Zimbabweans never really recovered from that double-strike, losing five wickets for 22 runs, and even a 48-run stand for the ninth wicket wasn't enough to post a challenging total.
The Zimbabweans launched a confident start with the ball. The dangerous Robin Uthappa was sent packing for 1 and the South captain, S Badrinath, was dismissed for 12. At 80 for 5 it was anyone's game but the partnership of Yadav and Ashwin tilted it South's way with a 103-run stand. Yadav hit 71 from 90 balls, with four sixes, and Ashwin steered South across the finish line with an unbeaten 62-ball 50. There were still ten overs remaining in their innings.
Ishank Jaggi's century and four wickets from Dhiraj Goswami formed the crux of East Zone's 65-run win over North Zone at the Barabati Stadium. Put in to bat, North were given a 98-run opening stand from Wriddhiman Saha and Natraj Behera (41), after which Jaggi joined forces with Saha to further torment North. Saha stroked 11 fours in making 84 from 98 balls, and though two wickets fell for one run, Jaggi found an able ally in Saurabh Tiwary. The youngsters put on 111 for the fourth wicket. Tiwary's contribution was 52 from 45 balls and Jaggi played out the entire innings to remain unbeaten on 110 from 98 balls. He hit nine fours and a couple sixes and East finished with 305 for 6.
Aakash Chopra had to look on in strife as North slipped to 40 for 3. Goswami accounted for Rahul Dewan and Virat Kohli to pile on the early pressure, and though Chopra added 57 with Uday Kaul, his dismissal for 58 in the 25th over left the team without a steady hand. Kaul followed soon after his captain, becoming Manoj Tiwary's second wicket. Mithun Manhas, North's captain, hit an academic 58 from 55 balls and Goswami finished with a career-best 4 for 35 as victory was achieved in the final over.
"It was a great victory, especially because we won the bonus point, too," Manoj Tiwary told the Kolkata-based Telegraph. "All our plans and strategies worked brilliantly today."
Zimbabwe (and Rhodesia)
India Domestic Season