East Zone displayed a superb team effort to beat defending champions Central by 18 runs and set up a summit clash with West in the Zonal One-Dayers of the Deodhar Trophy in Cuttack on Monday.
Put in to bat, East set a target of 258 for Mohammad Kaif-led side but even a 96-ball 93 from Piyush Chawla's blade proved to be futile and Central folded up for 239 in 47.4 overs.
Wrecker-in-chief Randeb Bose (3-46) denied Chawla, batting at number 8, a century after already denting their hopes by rattling the top-order along with Ashok Dinda (2-46). Central were at one stage reduced to 69 for six in 15.5 overs.
Four-time title winners East will cross swords with eight times champion West to decide the winners of 36th Prof DB Deodhar Trophy at Barabati Stadium on Wednesday.
The match was reduced to 48-over-a-side because of a 30-minute delayed start owing to bad light in the morning.
Earlier, Wriddhiman Saha and Natraj Behera gave the East Zone a rollicking start with an opening stand of 99 runs.
Carrying on his innings from where he left in the last match, Bengal wicketkeeper-batsman Wriddhiman defied the Central attack to notch his second half-century of the Zonal One-Dayers with a brisk pace. Wriddhiman took exactly 50 balls to script his fourth half-century.
Wriddhiman found an able ally in Orissa batsman Natraj who kept on rotating the strike. Riding on their opening stand, East Zone notched 77 for no loss in 15 overs.
With Central's medium pacers RP Singh, Pankaj Singh and Bhuvneshwar Kumar failing to get a breakthrough it was left for former India spinner Murali Kartik to do the trick.
The former India left-arm spinner did not disappoint either, giving Central the first breakthrough to break the 99 runs opening stand in 22.1 overs.
The Wriddhiman-Natraj duo, in their last match, stitched 98 runs together against North Zone.
Kartik's guile deceived Natraj who departed for a well made 28 from 59 balls with two fours. Wriddhiman (69) too departed in the same over.
Wriddhiman hit eight fours and one six in his 76-ball innings which was the pillar of East's innings.
Hero of the match against North Zone, Ishank Jaggi maintained his good run to score a 51-ball 48, while his Jamshedpur fellow Saurabh Tiwary entertained the sizeable crowd with a 32-ball 40, studded with two sixes and one four.
Skipper Manoj Tiwary, however, failed once again as he was brilliantly caught by Kaif at short midwicket off leg-spinner Chawla.
Few good hits in the dying overs by Dhiraj Goswami (19 from 12 balls; 1x4, 1x6) and Deepak Sharma (17 from 17 balls; 2x4) took East Zone to the challenging total.