South Zone had a walk in the park as it cruised to a comfortable nine-wicket win against North East Zone in the third-round match of the Deodhar Trophy here at the Cricket Association of Pondicherry ground on Friday.
A disciplined bowling effort led by pacer V. Kaverappa (3/27) and R. Sai Sai Kishore (3/22) restricted North East to just 136 after the latter elected to bat first.
Chasing a small total, Rohan Kunnummal’s delightful knock (87 n.o., 58b, 8x4, 5x6) ensured Mayank Agarwal’s men romped home to victory in just 19.3 overs, boosting its already healthy net run rate.
In the morning, South Zone pacers Kaverappa and Arjun Tendulkar - who was making his Deodhar Trophy debut - were miserly in the first ten overs and gave early breakthroughs.
Kaverappa got Nilesh Lamichaney bowled shouldering arms while the young Arjun, bowling over the wicket, was particularly impressive with his tight lines, cramping the right-handed batters for room.
The left-arm medium pacer started with 17 consecutive dot balls and recorded a wicket-maiden in his second over when he found the edge of Anup Ahlawat with a delivery that slanted across the right-hander.
Skipper Langlonyamba Meitan and Priyojit Kangabam (40) - who top-scored - steadied things for a while with a 30-run stand for the fourth wicket. However, Kaverappa got two wickets in the first over of his second spell, removing Langlonyamba (caught behind) and Palzor Tamang (caught at first slip) with deliveries that swung away and found the edge.
Later, Sai Kishore and Washington Sundar ran through the lower order to reduce North East to 88 for eight, even as Priyojit held the fort at the other end and helped the team cross 100.
In reply, after a watchful first few overs, Kunnummal unleashed the full range of his abilities with flicks, cuts and beautiful drives through covers.
The Kerala opener was lucky when Nilesh dropped him at slip in the first over. Kunnummal was particularly severe on pacer Abhishek Kumar, flicking him aerially a few times and lofting him down the ground with disdain.
After his half-century, Kunnummal would smash Abhishek for three sixes in an over, slogging him through the leg-side, as South Zone finished the chase in style to cement its position at the top of the table with a third straight win.
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