The first day of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy was one that was dominated by the side that elected to field. It was also one that highlighted just how secure India’s limited-overs future is with the likes of Rishabh Pant and Deepak Hooda waiting on the wings.
South Zone vs North Zone
Fifties from Indian openers Shikhar Dhawan and Gautam Gambhir helped North Zone beat South Zone by eight wickets with eight balls to spare. For the second time in the day, the team that won the toss and elected to field convincingly chased the target.
On the back of Ricky Bhui's fifty and Vijay Shankar’s 15-ball 34, South Zone got to 173/5 in their 20 overs, but that was never going to be enough against a side that boasted of the likes of Indian internationals such as Dhawan, Gambhir, Pant and Yuvraj Singh and so it proved.
Despite being captain, Harbhajan Singh bowled only two overs and although he picked up a wicket, it was the left-arm spinner Mayank Dagar who was the pick of the North Zone attack, which consisted of several Indian internationals including Ashish Nehra, Mohit Sharma and Parvez Rasool.
Leading the way with the bat was Gautam Gambhir who scored a 51-ball 81 and put on a century partnership for the opening wicket along with Shikhar Dhawan, a partnership which all but tilted the game in North Zone’s favor.
Although Dhawan was dismissed soon after he got to his fifty, Rishabh Pant came to the crease at No.3 and seemed intent on finishing the game quickly. And that is what he did courtesy of his 19-ball 33 which included three sixes including the one that sealed the game.
Gambhir looked almost rejuvenated following the arrival of Rishabh Pant as he fed off the youngster’s fast start he too pressed on the accelerator. He eventually scored 81 included a flurry of boundaries late in the game and following his dismissal, Pant sealed the deal with eight balls to spare.
Central Zone vs West Zone
The first game of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy saw Central Zone cruise to a six-wicket victory over a star-studded West Zone side at the Wankhede Stadium on the back of a fifty from Harpreet Singh and some tight bowling, they won the game with 10 balls to spare.
After winning the toss, Central Zone got off to the perfect start as they ran through the top-order but some late resistance meant that they had to chase 161 for victory. Despite boasting of the likes of Parthiv Patel, Priyank Panchal, Shreyas Iyer and Kedhar Jadhav in the top order, West Zone simply couldn’t get going.
They lost all four batsmen and even Irfan Pathan, who was batting at No.5 inside the 11th over. Thanks to forties from Aditya Tare and in-form Deepak Hooda, they managed to get over the 150 mark.
Deepak Hooda, in particular, is getting into some brilliant form ahead of the tenth edition of the IPL, as he finished on 49* from just 26 balls with two fours and four sixes. He almost scored his third T20 fifty in his last four matches but fell short as he helped his side post 160/8 in their 20 overs.
In response, Central Zone’s openers were dismissed in the space of 11 balls and Ambati Rayudu not too long after that but Mahesh Rawat and Harpreet combined for a 79-run partnership for the fourth wicket to help their side cruise to victory.
By the time Harpreet was dismissed, he already scored a 42-ball 62 and had all but sealed the victory for the side, which was secured by a six from Sohraab Dhaliwal with 10 balls to spare.
South Zone 173/5 in 20 overs (Ricky Bhui 50, Vijay Shankar 34, Mayank Dagar 2/31) lost to North Zone 176/2 in 18.4 overs (Gautam Gambhir 81, Shikhar Dhawan 50, Murugan Ashwin 1/23
Central Zone 165/4 in 18.2 overs (Harpreet Singh 62, Mahesh Rawat 30; Ishwar Choudhary 2/20) beat West Zone 160/8 in 20 overs (Deepak Hooda 49*, Aditya Tare 40; Aniket Choudhary 3/47, Amit Mishra 2/28) by six wickets.Published 12 Feb 2017, 16:49 IST