South Zone defended a small target with enthusiasm, beating North Zone by 30 runs in Mumbai on Thursday to enable West Zone capture the Deodhar Trophy title with two league ties yet to be played.
Put in to bat on a seaming, bouncy wicket at the Wankhede Stadium, South struggled from 82 for five to post a modest total of 191 all out in 44.3 overs, but their new ball bowlers fought back superbly to skittle North for 161 in 46.4 overs.
South owed their decent score to a patient half-century from S Badrinath (51 in 76 balls) who was last out. Half their side had been packed off cheaply, including skipper V V S Laxman, by the North pace bowlers led by gangling Delhi youngster Ishant Sharma (three for 51).
Badrinath and wicketkeeper Tilak Naidu (31) put on 44 runs to stem the rot before Ashish Nehra came back for his second spell to polish off the tail. The Delhi left-arm pacer grabbed three for 27.
North, who needed to win the match with a bonus point to keep their slim title hopes alive, lost their top half for 49 against the South new ball attack led by Andhra's K S Sahabuddin who took two wickets in his sixth over.
North, who slumped from 41 for two to 49 for five in six balls, recovered to 72 for six. But two run-outs put paid to their aspirations, the victims being Dharmani and Joginder Sharma (29 in 44 balls), though Vipul Sharma (53) kept them in the fight till he was last out.
Sahabuddin finished with fine figures of four for 30.
North, with four points to their credit, take on East on Saturday while South (4) clash with West (14) in the last tie on Sunday.