Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy: Agarwal, Ashwin shine as South Zone registers first win

Mayank Agarwal (70, 46b, 9 x 4s, 2 x 6s) showed his hitting power, and Murugan Ashwin shined with the ball as South Zone opened its account in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.

Mayank Agarwal scored a match-winning 70 off 46 balls   -  PTI

South Zone’s steadfast bowling effort paved the way for its first win in three matches against West Zone in the Syed Mushtaq Ali inter-zonal Twenty20 league tournament at the Wankhede Stadium on Thursday.

Mayank Agarwal (70, 46b, 9 x 4s, 2 x 6s) showed his hitting power in front of the wicket along with other clean and crisp cricketing shots to score half the runs that his team needed to win, but the opener’s powerful display came after the South bowlers showed a lot of purpose, skill and efficacy, especially leg spinner Murugan Ashwin who caused the downfall of two important West batsman, Sheldon Jackson and Kedar Jadav.

After opting to field first, South put the brakes on West soon after left-arm spinner Rahil Shah removed skipper Parthiv Patel in the last ball of the fourth over. Jackson, who has been in the limelight because of his consistent displays for Saurashtra in the Ranji Trophy and one-day tournaments, and Mumbai skipper Aditya Tare repaired the early damage to an extent, but the South seamers and spinners – whom skipper Vijay Shankar (replacing R.Vinay Kumar as captain) deployed smartly – held sway right through the first session of play.

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Ashwin struck the big blow when he took a superb reflex-catch of his own bowling when Jadhav hit a hard flat-batted shot in the second ball of the thirteenth over. Jadhav’s exit allowed South to take control in an emphatic manner. Deepak Hooda hit the first six of the West innings in the fourteenth over off Shah and repeated the shot of the same bowler, but while attempting to reverse hit the spinner,he got himself off-balanced, dragged himself outside his crease for Karthik to whip off the bails in a flash.

In the end, left-arm seamer Chama Milind picked up three wickets as West’s innings hastened to a close leaving a fraction over seven runs an over for South to chase. Right-hander Vishnu Vinod who was in good nick for Kerala in the South Zone Twenty20 league, countered the left-arm seam of Irfan Pathan with an expansive swipe over mid-wicket for a six, hammered 36 off 20 balls, and helped his team race to 48 for the first wicket of 30 balls. After his departure, Agarwal took charge making an fluent half century with a number of aerial shots, taking a particular liking to the 45-year-old leg spinner Pravin Tambe.