Tamil Nadu triumphs

NOTWITHSTANDING the absence of pace spearhead L. Balaji and left-hander Hemang Badani, both away with the India-A side in the Caribbean, Tamil Nadu won the BCCI's limited-overs tournament for zonal winners (five-team, all-play-all league) held in Chennai in the first week of March.

SANJAY RAJAN

The triumphant Tamil Nadu team. — Pic. N. BALAJI-

NOTWITHSTANDING the absence of pace spearhead L. Balaji and left-hander Hemang Badani, both away with the India-A side in the Caribbean, Tamil Nadu won the BCCI's limited-overs tournament for zonal winners (five-team, all-play-all league) held in Chennai in the first week of March.

While the event withered in the glare of the cricket World Cup, the contests were keen, and the host, despite losing the opening match to Maharashtra, went on to top the table. Punjab and Tamil Nadu finished with 13 points each and the latter was adjudged champion on account of having beaten the former in the league phase.

Tamil Nadu's D.Dhandapani, who bagged five wickets against Punjab, gets rid of S.P. Singh. — Pic. N. BALAJI-

It was bad management of overs on the part of the Tamil Nadu captain S. Suresh and patchy fielding and catching by the side that resulted in the team losing to Maharashtra. But the team's demolition of Punjab, the sole leader till then, was clinical and the bonus point (for achieving victory with a run-rate 1.25 times that of the opposition) garnered saw it emerge joint-leader before the final round. Punjab had picked up a bonus point against Bengal.

New-ball bowlers D. J. Gokulakrishnan and S. Mahesh sent back the top four batsmen by the 11th over after Punjab opted to bat; the dismissals looking soft owing to the effortless manner in which the catches were held. Thereafter, off-spinner D. Dhandapani spun a web around the opposition while he finished with a five-wicket haul. The host reached the target of 170 without much ado thanks to the 102-run opening wicket stand between Suresh and left-hander S. Ramesh, who displayed a measure of consistency.

The only other five-wicket haul in the tournament was by Iqbal Siddiqui for Maharashtra (which was without Abhijit Kale, away with India-A) against Bengal. Maharashtra, which finished with 12 points, began the tournament clinching cliffhangers against Railways and Tamil Nadu. Siddiqui did the star-turn against Railways, dismissing the dangerous Jacob Martin and the well-set Yere Goud. Railways (without Murali Kartik and J.P. Yadav, away with India-A) was penalised two overs for slow over-rate in the match reduced to 45 overs a side due to the delayed start owing to a damp spot in the pitch. That made the difference in the end.

Maharashtra's No. 10 batsman, left-hander Mandar Dalvi, scored a six off mediumpacer Suresh with the side needing eight for victory from five deliveries that saw the team pull off a two-wicket win. It might have made sense had M.R. Shrinivas, the Tamil Nadu spearhead, bowled the final over, considering that containment was out of the question and the only chance was to blow the tail away. Moreover, Suresh was coming on after a 33-over lay-off.

The other new ball bowler S. Mahesh, who finished with an impressive analysis of 8-1-28-0, surprisingly did not get to complete his quota of 10 overs. He bowled the 49th and off his last delivery grassed a caught and bowled chance from Mandar, who ran a cheeky single to keep strike.

Maharashtra lost a thriller — its only defeat — to Punjab when, with three runs required off the last delivery, Amit Uniyal snicked Siddiqui, who surprisingly provided width, to the third-man fence.

The two century-makers were southpaws Tejinder Pal Singh and Amit Pagnis who fashioned Railways' 10-wicket win over Bengal with a bonus point — the Central Zone team's only success.

S. Mahesh, who picked up four wickets for Tamil Nadu against Railways, induces Tejinder Pal Singh to snick a delivery into the slips. S. Ramesh took the catch. — Pic. V. GANESAN-

Tamil Nadu met Bengal, which lost all its matches, and Punjab locked horns with Railways in the final round. Led by Reetinder Singh Sodhi, Punjab's chances of clinching the crown hinged on the outcome of Tamil Nadu's encounter; the Punjab side had to win with the bonus point while the southern powerhouse had to fail on that count. But both sides posted straight victories.

The scores:

Maharashtra 221 for seven in 45 overs (Kaushik Aphale 37, Sagar Shah 81) bt Railways 219 for eight in 43 overs (Amit Pagnis 41, Abhay Sharma 26, Jacob Martin 71, Yere Goud 41) at SRMC (turf) on March 1.

Punjab 247 for eight in 50 overs (H. Jugnu 55, R. S. Sodhi 41, R. Ricky 32, Amit Uniyal 31 not out, S. Lahiri three for 49) bt Bengal 194 for nine in 50 overs (Rohan Gavaskar 77 not out, L. R. Shukla 28, Vineet Sharma three for 38, Navdeep Singh three for 30) at ICL-GNC on March 1.

Tamil Nadu 252 for seven in 50 overs (S. Ramesh 60, S. Sriram 43, D. J. Gokulakrishnan 44 not out) lost to Maharashtra 253 for eight in 49.5 overs (Niranjan Godbole 54, Hrishikesh Kanitkar 40, Sagar Shah 39, Kashinath Khadkikar 34) at Chidambaram Stadium on March 2.

Bengal 263 for eight in 50 overs (Prasonjit Ganguly 45, Devang Gandhi 63, Rohan Gavaskar 32, L.R. Shukla 54 not out, Zakir Hussain three for 62) lost to Railways 265 for no loss in 35.2 overs (Tejinder Pal Singh 156 not out, Amit Pagnis 103 not out) at SRMC-turf on March 2.

Maharashtra 254 for five in 50 overs (Anand Dalvi 44, N. Godbole 25, Hrishikesh Kanitkar 79, K. Aphale 54) lost to Punjab 256 for seven in 50 overs (Munish Sharma 36, Harminder Jugnu 46, R. S. Sodhi 57, S. P. Singh 60, Iqbal Siddiqui three for 65) at IIT-Chemplast on March 4.

Tamil Nadu 252 for eight in 50 overs (S. Suresh 32, S. Ramesh 62, J. R. Madanagopal 55, S. Vasanth Saravanan 45, D. J. Gokulakrishnan 27) bt Railways 213 in 45.4 overs (Amit Pagnis 59, Abhay Sharma 44, Jacob Martin 28, Yere Goud 34 not out, S. Mahesh four for 30, D. Dhandapani three for 50) at Chidambaram Stadium on March 4.

Amit Pagnis and Tejinder Pal Singh cracked unbeaten hundreds for Railways against Bengal. — Pic. V. GANESAN-

Maharashtra 236 for nine in 50 overs (A. Dalvi 54, R. Khirid 42, K. Khadkikar 46, Ranadeb Bose three for 32) bt Bengal 221 in 48.4 overs (Deep Dasgupta 65, Rohan Gavaskar 48, Iqbal Siddiqui five for 43) at Chidambaram Stadium on March 5.

Punjab 169 in 47.4 overs (M. Sharma 25, R. Ricky 28, S. P. Singh 26, Amit Uniyal 39, D. Dhandapani five for 42) lost to Tamil Nadu 172 for three in 38 overs (S. Suresh 43, S. Ramesh 88 not out) at IIT-Chemplast on March 5.

Bengal 239 for eight in 50 overs (Prasonjit Ganguly 59, Nikhil Haldipur 30, Rohan Gavaskar 34, Subhomoy Das 38) lost to Tamil Nadu 241 for seven in 48.3 overs (S. Sriram 29, S. Sharath 45, J. R. Madanagopal 29, Vasanth Saravanan 39, Ramkumar 36, Sabir Ali four for 60) at ICL-Guru Nanak on March 7.

Punjab 254 for nine in 50 overs (R. Ricky 62, I. Malhotra 47, P. Dharmani 78, Zakir Hussain three for 39) bt Railways 237 in 49.2 overs (Tejinder Pal Singh 41, Abhay Sharma 34, Jacob Martin 50, Yere Goud 29, Santosh Sahu 31) at Chidambaram Stadium on March 7.