A success after 11 years

East Zone playerscelebrate with the trophy after beating West Zone in the final in Mumbai.-PICS:PTI

Skipper Manoj Tiwary and Ashoke Dinda played the lead roles in East’s defeat of West in the Deodhar Trophy final. By G. Viswanath.

There was some buzz about BCCI’s two important limited overs tournaments — the all India inter-city (State) Vijay Hazare Trophy and the inter-zone Deodhar Trophy. The two competitions drew attention because the Indian selectors were watching the matches in order to pick the 30 probables for the ICC World Cup 2015, to be held in Australia and New Zealand in February-March.

The zonal limited overs league matches that began in the first week of November actually set off the process of identifying the Indian probables for the World Cup. Two teams from each zone (South, West, Central, North and East) qualified for the Hazare Trophy (held in Rajkot, Baroda and Ahmedabad), and the defending champion, Karnataka, won the title with a fluent victory against Punjab in the final.

The Deodhar Trophy followed immediately at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, where East Zone, led by Manoj Tiwary, won the title after 11 seasons.

Players and teams take pride in winning tournaments not only for the attractive prize money but also for the fact that they get a big stage to perform and show their mettle in the presence of the national selectors and a large television audience. The BCCI’s official broadcaster, Star Sports, showed all four matches of the Deodhar Trophy live.

The BCCI had advanced both the Vijay Hazare Trophy and the Deodhar Trophy in order to provide an opportunity to the players to show their form and enable the selectors to choose the Indian probables for the World Cup.

Bengal’s fast medium bowler Ashoke Dinda and Tiwary dished out spectacular performances with the ball and bat respectively in the inter-zonal tournament. Dinda bowled fast in the final against West Zone and helped East Zone win the trophy with a four-wicket haul. He scalped Smit Patel, Sheldon Jackson and Ambati Rayudu by the 11th over and then sent back Suryakumar Yadav in his last spell to bring cheer to his team-mates. Dinda’s four for 33 from nine overs won him the Man of the Match award and most importantly, a place among the 30 Indian probables for the World Cup.

Dinda would not have been in the thick of action had it not been for the recovery act played by his captain Tiwary after he elected to bat. Tiwary dug in for nearly 20 overs and steered his team to a relatively safe position after West Zone’s new ball bowlers, Dhawal Kulkarni and Domnic Muthuswami, had sent the East openers, Shreevats Goswami and Ishank Jaggi, to the pavilion by the middle of the fourth over.

MAN OF THE MATCH... East Zone's Ashoke Dinda (right) is congratulated by team-mates on taking a wicket. Dinda's haul of four for 33 earned him a place among the 30 Indian probables for the World Cup.-

Tiwary was the man in form. The batsman, who took 10 years to score his first century (130 against Vidarbha in the Vijay Hazare knock-out match in Rajkot) in domestic limited overs tournaments, scored his second century, a stupendous 121-ball 151 (15x4, 4x6) against North Zone. He was East’s linchpin in the final against West Zone as he scored a polished 75 (92 balls, 3x4, 4x6) to lift his team from a dismal five for two.

Tiwary was dismissed in the 34th over, but his fierce determination inspired Odisha’s Biplab Samantaray, who scored a daring 50-ball 60 (7x4, 1x6).

Tiwary and Dinda dominated the tournament, particularly in the final. Among the others who caught the attention during the competition were Gujarat’s Axar Patel, Mumbai’s Yadav and Maharashtra’s Kedar Jadhav.

In the semifinals, when all seemed lost for West Zone against South Zone, Yadav and Patel swung the match in their team’s favour. Chasing down 314 was a daunting task, but West’s young cricketers made the night memorable unleashing some mighty blows. In the final, Jadhav tried hard but missed his century by three runs.

Batsmen Robin Uthappa, Mayank Agarwal, Manish Pandey, Baba Aparajith (113 against Central in the quarterfinals) and Karun Nair did well for South and Gurkeerat Singh Mann (83) kept the fight going for North against East in the semifinals.

On his decision to bat first in the final, Tiwary said he had decided so because many of his team-mates were not used to batting under lights. “We felt that 250 plus would keep the pressure on West. Our bowlers did well,” he said.