Internet Desk: Skipper Manoj Tiwary played a brilliant unbeaten knock of 75 runs in just 43 balls as East Zone beat North Zone by 8 wickets to register their third win on the trot in Mushtaq Ali T-20 Inter Zonal League in Mumbai on Thursday.
19-year-old Virat Singh slammed a superb 74 in 48 balls and put on 149 runs in just 87 balls with Captain Manoj Tiwary. Manoj struck an unbeaten 75, hitting five fours and as many sixes to help his side chase down a target of 160 runs with eight wickets and 21 balls to spare. And with the IPL auctions scheduled on February 20, the Bengal batsman might just have hit the right chord.
And he couldn’t agree more. “Whether it (IPL selection) happens or not, only God knows. Yes, the timing is important. All the franchise owners were watching this innings while sitting in VIP box or on television,” he said after the match on Thursday.
The 31-year-old, who had a base price of Rs 1 crore, went unsold in the auctions last year. However, it wasn’t just because of his performances.
“Last year I was injured and couldn’t play the IPL and no franchisee wanted to take chance with me. Injuries have always followed me,” he said.
“It was disappointing (to miss IPL last year). When I was watching IPL from home, I knew that I could play, seeing players with very little experience playing.
“I cannot do anything about it. It is up to concerned franchise owners and their talent scouts. I know that I will play in it (IPL). You should not write off players if they fail in one or two innings.”
But now that he is back in shape, Tiwary is hoping that his efforts will bear fruits. “I have always believed in hard work and over a period of time hard work pays off. I am constantly working hard on my game.”
Speaking of his performance on the day, Tiwary was impressed with how he went about his game plan.
“I wanted to play a good innings, because I was not getting chances to bat long and the situation was that there were more balls than runs and I wanted to play captain’s knock to take the team through,” he said.
“Today I got the platform and situation demanded that I lead from the front. I played with positive intent and also went inside first six overs, so I knew that if I hit the shots in the gap the boundaries will come and that’s what happened.”
Virat replaced Ishan Kishan, following the latter’s release to play for India A against the visiting Australian team in the warm-up game at the Brabourne Stadium from Friday.
If East Zone loses their match against the West Zone and Central Zone beat South Zone on Saturday afternoon, there will be a tie (12 points each) and the net run-rate will come into the picture to decide the winners.
After their third win on Thursday, East Zone were sitting pretty on 12 points with a net run-rate of plus 1.185, while Central, who have 8 points to their credit after two wins and a loss, are second with a net run-rate of minus 0.064.
In the first match of the day South Zone, powered by opener Mayank Agarwal’s 70 off 36 balls, notched their first win of the tournament by defeating West Zone by five wickets.
Riding on Agarwal’s breezy knock, South overhauled West’s total of 140 for 9 by making 141 for 5 in 17.4 overs.
In the East-North afternoon contest, the latter, without Rishabh Pant, who has also been released to play for India A, were restricted to less than 160 which was not par for the course even on the worn-out track.
Yuvraj Singh threatened to take the game away from East with a flurry of four sixes in his 24-ball 38 before he was induced by Amit Verma to edge behind after having smacked the bowler for a huge six in the same over.
Having lost openers Shikhar Dhawan, Gautam Gambhir and Unmukht Chand, playing his first game in place of Pant, with 85 on board in the 12th over, North needed Yuvraj to play a bigger knock but it was not to be.
The rest of the batting caved in against left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha, who grabbed three wickets.
East started poorly by losing Shreevats Goswami and yesterday’s batting hero Ishank Jaggi cheaply to be in trouble at 13 for 2 after two overs before Virat and Tiwary pulled them out of the mire and then started to dominate the bowling attack.
Virat struck 9 fours and 2 sixes, while Tiwary slammed five sixes and as many fours as they pulverised the North bowling attack to guide East home well inside the allotted overs.
Earlier, South won the toss and put the opposition in and used the early morning conditions to trouble the hosts who never got going at full throttle and also lost wickets at regular intervals to be 81 for 4 at the end of 13 overs.
Deepak Hooda struck a 21-ball 32, hitting two sixes and one four, to give some momentum but his departure at 112 in the 16th over set West back although Irfan Pathan helped the total reach 140 by making 26 in 17 balls.
The score was just not enough once West failed to strike early blows as opener Mayank Agarwal, who hit 9 fours and a couple of sixes, anchored the innings to a nicety.
The Karnataka batsman and Vishnu Vinod (36 in 20 balls) gave a good start to the chase by adding 48 runs in 5 overs.
Mayank Agarwal then took over the attacking reins after Kerala’s Vinod was dismissed by Mumbai’s 45-year-old leggie Pravin Thambe.