A gobsmacking century (131, 102b, 4x4, 11x6) and four wickets from Riyan Parag scripted an 88-run win for East Zone against North in Deodhar Trophy at the CAP Ground 3 here on Friday.
Where most East batters looked tentative on a pitch that offered bounce, Parag negotiated it with ease, playing close to his body. Using his crease to great effect, Parag clobbered pacers and spinners alike to break Yusuf Pathan’s 13-year-old record of most sixes in an innings in the tournament.
The 20-year-old first unleashed his brute force against the spinners. With back-to-back sixes against Mayank Markande, Parag got to his fifty in just 38 deliveries.
After feasting off the slower bowlers, Parag bullied the pacers. Two bludgeoning blows over mid-wicket was how Parag welcomed Harshit Rana for his second spell. The onslaught continued even after he brought up his 84-ball century.
In the 44th over, Parag smacked three sixes on the trot against Sandeep Sharma, the third being a cross-bat, tennis-like forehand swat down the ground.
Complementing Parag from the other end was Kumar Kushagra. The pair got together with East five down at 57 and combined for 235 runs to propel the team’s total to 337/8.
Focused on arresting his team’s slide, Kushagra was cautious to begin but swiftly changed gears in the death overs. Taking a leaf out of his partner’s manual, Kushagra too relied heavily on the pull shot.
The pair fell in the space of three deliveries to Mayank Yadav, trying to slash on the off side. But just when North bowlers thought their agony was over, Manisankar Murasingh and Shahbaz Ahmed stitched a 42-run partnership off just 20 deliveries to pile on more misery.
Earlier in the innings, Rana and Yadav persisted with hitting the deck hard and were rewarded with wickets, triggering a collapse in the top order.
In reply, North Zone was jolted early when Prabhsimran Singh failed to check his square drive and lobbed it straight to the point fielder.
Himanshu Rana and Abhishek Sharma, however, chipped away at the target. The pair collected boundaries at regular intervals to keep North in touch with the asking rate. Their 82-run association was ended by Parag who had Himanshu hole out to deep square leg on 40.
Abhishek fell shortly after on 44 to Mukhtar Hussain to leave captain Nitish Rana and Mandeep Singh the task of re-laying the foundation. Nitish looked fluent for the most part but was guilty of a heedless shot. An attempt at reverse sweeping Shahbaz Ahmed proved fatal as a top edge flew to short third man.
Mandeep Singh anchored the innings and brought up his fifty in 51 deliveries. Shubham Rohilla injected impetus to the run chase with his counter-punching stroke play on the on side. At 200 in 35 overs, and with six wickets in hand, North was in the hunt.
Parag then got rid of Mandeep, to cut short a threatening North partnership for the second time. He prised out two more, and with Shahbaz Ahmed, wrapped the opposition’s tail to complete a thumping win for East.
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