East Zone overcame a middle order slump to prevail over title-holders South Zone by one wicket and register their third victory on the trot in the Deodhar Trophy limited-overs cricket match in Agartala on Friday.
Chasing South Zone's total of 240 for five, built around a masterly unbeaten 104 by Y Venugopal Rao, East started off well, reaching 122 for one, when Srikumar Nair (5/29) bowled with venom to pick wickets at regular intervals and bring the visitors back into the match.
East Zone top order batsman Nikhil Haldipur (30), M S Dhoni (65) and skipper Devang Gandhi (21) laid a solid foundation before the later order batsmen gave in to Nair's guiles.
As the procession continued at the other end, in-form Kiran Pawar (65) soldiered on grittily, till he was scalped by S Sriram, reducing East to 235 for nine.
Anirban Chatterjee (10 not out) finally managed a boundary of the penultimate ball to take East Zone to a pulsating victory.
Wielding the willow in style, Rao's morning essay lasted 137 balls and was embellished with six boundaries after South Zone were put in to bat.
Rao got admirable support from A Kuduva (34), as the duo stitched together a 110-run stand for the fifth wicket.
S Ramesh c D Dasgupta b L R Shukla 28
M S K Prasad b S S Paul 17
S Sreeram c D Dasgupta b S Lahiri 20
Y Benugopal Rao not out 104
S Suresh lbw b K Power 5
A Kuduva b S Sanyal 34
V Sivarama Krishna not out 20
Extras: (lb-6, nb-4, wb-2) 12
Total: (for five wickets) 240
Fall of wickets: 1-42, 2-51, 3-92, 4-101, 5-211
Bowling: S S Paul 10-0-49-1, S Sanyal 9-2-52-1, L R Shukla 3-0-17-1, S Lahiri 10-0-43-1, K Power 10-0-37-1, A Chatterjee 8-0-36-0.
Nikhil Haldipur run out 30
M S Dhoni c M S K Prasad b S Nair 65
D Gandhi c M S K Prasad b S Nair 21
Kiran Pawar c & b Sreeram 65
Deep Dasgupta c Sreeram b S Nair 5
L R Shukla st. M S K Prasad b S Nair 4
R Satish b S Nair 8
Sanjib Sanyal runout 5
Sourosish Lahiri c M S K Prasad b Sivaram Krishnan 9
Anirban Chattrjee not out 10
Shibshankar Pal not out 0
Extras: (lb-2, nb-11, wb-08) 21
Total: (for 9 wkts. 49.5 overs) 243
Fall of wickets: 1-70, 2-122, 3-133, 4-142, 5-153, 6-167, 7-185, 8-211, 9-235.
Bowling: D Ganesh 9-0-53-0, T Yohanan 3-0-19-0, V Sivaram Krishnan 9.5-0-47-1, S Vishnuvardhan 5-0-29-0, Y Venugopal Rao 3-0-14-0, Srikumar Nair 10-0-29-5, S Sreeram 10-0-50-1.