South Zone clinch Deodhar Trophy title for 9th time


South Zone’s juggernaut continued as they clinched the Deodhar Trophy title for the ninth time with a commanding 45-run win over East Zone in the final, here on Thursday.
After opener Rohan Kunnummal smacked a sensational century — a 75-ball 107 with four sixes and 11 fours — to set the ball rolling for his side, there was no stopping the South Zone who piled up 328 for eight in the summit clash batting first.
South Zone’s impressive bowling line-up then made life miserable for the East Zone batters, whose top order crumbled to reach 75 for four after 16 overs and were left staring at a mountain to climb.
It was not for the first time in the Deodhar Trophy that East Zone pinned all their hopes on the pair of Riyan Parag and Kumar Kushagra, who delivered yet again with a 105-run stand for the sixth wicket, but their effort was just not enough. Chasing 329 to win, East Zone were bowled out for 283 in 46.1 overs.
All hopes were quashed for East Zone when their star all-rounder, Parag fell agonisingly five runs close to what would have been his third century in the competition. Having stuttered in the chase, Parag’s yet another quickfire knock — 95 from 65 balls with eight fours and five sixes — did revive East Zone’s hopes of turning the tables on South Zone. But Washington Sundar dealt the decisive blow when he pinned Parag in front of the wickets in the 38th over, with the chasing team needing another 109 runs to win from 12 overs. There was still some fight left in East Zone as Kushagra took charge, hitting Vijaykumar Vyshak for two fours and Sundar for a couple of sixes. But the Tamil Nadu and India all-rounder Sundar had the last laugh, getting Kushagra caught by Rohit Rayudu for a 58-ball 68 (6x4s, 3x6s) and shut the doors on East Zone in the 42nd over.
At the start of their chase, Vasuki Koushik accounted for Abhimanyu Easwaran (1) and Virat Singh (6) while Vidwath Kaverappa removed Utkarsh Singh to leave East Zone reeling at 14 for three.
Earlier in the first half, Mayank Agarwal called it right for South Zone to bat first, as their opening pair tore into the East Zone bowling attack right from the word go. Agarwal (63 from 83 balls, 4x4s) took the backseat and watched his younger partner, Kerala’s Kunnummal go ballistic with the bat.
The right-handed opener smacked his first ton of the competition after scores of 70 and 87 not out earlier, giving his side complete command. Kunnummal and Agarwal piled up 181 runs before they were separated, in the 25th over, but by then a strong platform had been set for South Zone.
Narayan Jagadeesan made a watchful 54 off 60 balls but no other South Zone batter could really impose themselves in the remainder of their innings. Having won the Duleep Trophy final recently against the East Zone, this is South Zone’s second national title in the span of a month. South Zone had won all of their five league round matches of Deodhar Trophy as well. Brief scores: North Zone 328/8 in 50 overs (Rohan Kunnummal 107, Mayank Agarwal 63, N Jagadeesan 54; Utkarsh Singh 2/50) beat East Zone 283 in 46.1 overs (Sudip Gharami 41, Riyan Parag 95, Kumar Kushagra 68; Washington Sundar 3/60) by 45 runs. (PTI)