The in-form Bengal right-hander once again rose to the occasion and played a captain's knock to steer East Zone to a resounding eight-wicket win over North Zone in the Syed Mushtaq Ali inter-zonal Twenty20 cricket league here on Thursday.
West, North and South are out of contention for the title. Hyderabad's Chama Milind got South Zone back in control by sending back Rijul and Abhishek Nayar in the next over and reduced them to 118-7.
A late cameo by Irfan Pathan helped West Zone to reach a decent total of 140/9 after 20 overs.
Deepak Hooda (32) tried to provide some momentum as he struck two sixes and a boundary in his 21-ball knock, but the 31-run partnership between him and Rujul Bhatt (8) came to a drastic end as he tried to go for a fancy reverse-sweep, missed it and was stumped by Parthiv. For South Zone, Chama Milind picked up 3 wickets while Rahil, Ashwin and Vijay ended with 2 wickets apiece. Odia pacer Suryakant pradhan bowled a very good spell conceding 16 runs in 3 overs with an economy rate of 5.33 and managed to bowls 10 dot balls to the top order batting line up of North Zone.
With Yuvraj striking the ball well, North, at 106 for 3 in the middle of the 14th over would have hoped for a total in excess of 180, but leg-spinner Amit Verma got the prize wicket of the Punjab left-hander who had made 38 of 24 balls.
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Vishnu Vinod's 20-ball 36 set the tone for South Zone's 141-run chase, before Agarwal's turbocharge - peppered with nine fours and two sixes - powered them to 136 in 16.4 overs.
Brief Scores: Central Zone 167/7 (Manish Rawat 57 not out, Naman Ojha 48, Ashish Nehra 3/26, Harbhajan Singh 2/35) beat North Zone 163/6 (Shikhar Dhawan 37, Yuvraj Singh 33, Rishabh Pant 25, Karn Sharma 3/17) by four runs.
Chasing 160, Tiwary (75*) and Virat (74*) guide East to a comfortable win with an undefeated 149-run third wicket stand.
North Zone, after being asked to bat first by East Zone, were off to a great start, courtesy their openers Shikhar Dhawan and Gautam Gambhir, who scored 20 each before Yuvraj Singh and Unmukt Chand took charge of the proceedings.
For East, Odisha born India spinner Prgayan Ojha who is now playing for Bengal Ranji Team took 3 wickets while Amit Verma, Shayan Ghosh and Pritam Das scalped 2 wickets each.