Dharamsala: West Zone stamped their supremacy once again in a domestic competition as they thrashed North by a massive 113 runs to win the Deodhar Trophy here on Monday.
In a one-sided contest at the HPCA ground, North's decision to send the opposition in on a good batting track backfired as West raced to 83 runs in the first 10 overs. Ajinkya Rahane scored a brilliant century (118 off 122), while the other top three batsmen - skipper Parthiv Patel (78 off 63), Cheteshwar Pujara (71 off 67) and Kedar Jadhav (67 off 43) - all hit half-centuries to propel West to a massive 355/4 in 50 overs.
North, in reply, surrendered meekly against good seam bowling by Munaf Patel. The seasoned paceman picked up four of the top five North batsmen. A late blitz by Bipul Sharma (68, 4 sixes) and a spunky 30 by Harbhajan Singh, delayed the inevitable by sharing a 97-run partnership for the seventh wicket, but the dismissals of the duo in the same over by Iqbal Abdulla shrank North's hopes of reducing the defeat margin. They were ultimately bowled out for 242 in 42.2 overs.
Opening the batting for the West, Parthiv and Rahane gave the side a flying start. Parthiv was more aggressive between the two, scoring his 50 in 37 balls. But once the wicketkeeper batsman departed after the 131-run opening stand, Rahane took charge, playing both grounded and lofted shots with consummate ease.
The Mumbai batsman got to his century in 112 balls as West reached the 200-run mark in the 32nd over. West although lost the wicket of Rahane, who hit 15 fours and a six in his knock, in the batting powerplay, accumulated 49 runs during the course.
The aggressive Rahane at the other end gave Pujara enough time to get his eye in before he could tonk the ball. The classy right-hander completed his half-century in 51 balls before being caught by Shikhar Dhawan off Pradeep Sangwan.
Jadhav started off where he left in his swashbuckling knock (114 off 86) in the semi-final against East in Mohali on Saturday, playing shots on both sides of the wicket. In his 43-ball knock, the Maharashtra batsman slammed three sixes and seven fours. Before the last wicket of Suryakumar Yadav (9 off 5) fell on the last delivery of the 50th over, the damage was already done, with West clobbering 95 runs in the last 10 overs.
North's decision to opt for bowling first also defied logic as their strike bowler Parvinder Awana, who bowled them to victory with a six-for against Central Zone at the same venue on Sunday, couldn't play the final due to an injury.
Manpreet Gony, who opened the bowling for the North, went for 80 runs in his 10 overs, while 54 runs were scored off Rishi Dhawan. Sangwan picked up two wickets, while left-arm spinner Bipul and skipper Harbhajan got one wicket each.
Chasing an imposing total, North got off to a terrible start, losing four of their top five batsmen inside 10 overs. Mandeep Singh, who also scored 53 in the semi-final against Central on Sunday, played a 46-run knock. But his innings, together with some lusty blows by Gony (28) and Rishi (25) at the end, could not change North's fate.
"The wicket was playing well, so wanted to make use of it," West Zone skipper Parthiv told Cricketnext after the match. When asked did he miss a big hundred today, the wicketkeeper batsman said, "I didn't want to stop the flow I was batting in, so went for my shots throughout the innings, Unfortunately, I missed a straight delivery and got LBW."
Man-of-the-Match Rahane said, "I wanted to make a big score. The wicket was true and that gave the batsmen an opportunity to go for their shots straight away. The presence of Parthiv, who was timing the ball nicely, helped me to get in my rhythm before I could score freely."