Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy: Gambhir, Dhawan power North past South

India discards, Gautam Gambhir and Shikhar Dhawan struck breezy half centuries against a listless South Zone bowling attack to power North Zone to a thumping eight-wicket victory with eight balls to spare in the Mushtaq Ali T20 Inter Zonal league here today.

Shikhar Dhawan in action for North Zone.   -  PTI

Gautam Gambhir may have been past his prime, especially in the shorter formats. Shikhar Dhawan may have lost his place in India’s side in two of the three formats. But the Delhi openers’ association of 103 set up North Zone’s facile win against South Zone in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy Twenty20 championship.

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Wankhede Stadium saw a decent turnout on Sunday afternoon, primarily to watch Yuvraj Singh bat. But with the left-handed duo on song, followed by Rishabh Pant toying with the South bowlers, the spectators had to make do with watching Yuvraj knocking a few balls after North overhauled the target of 174 with eight balls to spare.

Gambhir started the chase creaming three boundaries — a pull, a drive and a streaky edge to third-man — off R. Vinay Kumar in the opening over. Dhawan repeated the hat-trick of boundaries with successive cuts and a lofted drive over covers, off S. Arvind in the fourth.

Once the two most experienced bowlers failed to strike, the leg-break duo of M. Ashwin and D. Swaroop Kumar turned out to be a cakewalk for the batsmen. Both the leggies preferred googlies over leg-breaks but still were punished by Dhawan and Gambhir.

Ashwin finally foxed Dhawan with a googly for ’keeper Vishnu Vinod — who got a game since Dinesh Karthik had to rush to Chennai due to a bereavement in the family — didn’t falter. By then, the damage was done and Dhawan had also earned applause for a fifty. Gambhir and Pant continued cruising towards the target, with Pant sending one from Vinay into the stands to stamp the victory just after Gambhir was cleaned up by Arvind.

Earlier in the afternoon, Ricky Bhui’s sensible batting and Vijay Shankar’s late charge helped South Zone to set up a total of 173 for five. All through the innings, an experienced North bowling unit kept striking regularly, thus avoiding any of the South batsmen from running away with the game.

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