East Zone crushes West to lift Mushtaq Ali T20 trophy

Teenager Virat Singh was again in the limelight with a cracking half-century which guided East Zone to an eight-wicket victory over West Zone to clinch the National T20 Championship for the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.

The victorious East Zone team poses with the trophy.   -  special arrangement

East Zone took the field with three wins under its belt and then thrashed West Zone by eight wickets and 38 balls to spare to win the Syed Mushtaq Ali Inter-Zone Twenty20 league at the Wankhede Stadium here on Saturday. East’s top three batsmen delivered the goods with Ishank Jaggi pummelling six sixes on his way to make an attractive half century.

West showed the inclination to compete in the match till the fourth ball of the fourth over when skipper Parthiv Patel, after hitting three boundary shots of medium pacer Suryakant Pradhan played across to be declared leg before. After Patel’s fall, only Saurashtra’s Sheldon Jackson (52, 44b, 5 x 4s, 2 x 6) got going to make a half century and once he departed in the first ball of the 15th over, West did not have the sturdy men to play the big shots in the last five overs to post a formidable total. The home team managed to get 149 which was surpassed by East in 13.4 overs.

>Scorecard

Openers K.B. Arun Karthick --- coming in place of Shreevats Goswami --- and Jharkhand’s Virat Singh provided the fireworks from the word go. Karthick struck two fours and lifted as many sixes as East hammered 61 for the first wicket off 32 balls. Virat, who had scored an unbeaten half century in his team’s good win against North Zone on Friday, continued to dominate the bowlers and added 80 runs for the second wicket with his State teammate, Jaggi. When skipper Manoj Tiwary hit the winning boundary shot, Virat was unbeaten on 58 off 34 balls with five 4s and three 6s.

Jaggi, who has been the pillar of strength for Jharkhand in the Ranji Trophy for many years, played his part by smashing a 30-ball 56. The West bowlers could little to check the run rate as East cantered home to notch its fourth straight win.

A very happy-looking Jaggi said: "The most satisfactory thing was that we became champions; when we came into the tournament we were the underdogs. Manoj bhaiiya (Tiwary) and Rajiv Kumar (coach) guided us from the mental point of view. They told us that we have to play good cricket as a unit and not worry about the results. We got into the groove in the first game and carried the momentum forward, that was the best thing."

Talking about his own form Jaggi further said: "As a batsman I want to perform in every game; I got out to a bad shot in the last game. Today I went out with a mindset either to leave the short ball initially or defend it and that I should not play a loose shot. With this approach I was able to execute the plan."