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Raina's effort in vain

By Our Special Correspondent

PUNE, JAN. 23. Central Zone stumbled at the finish to lose the Deodhar Trophy opener by seven runs, after unheralded Suresh Raina and seasoned Murali Kartik had taken them within striking distance of victory.

Chasing a victory target of 270, Mohd. Kaif's side was bowled out for 262 in the 49th over, Harvinder Singh's run out four overs before close and R.P. Singh's heave into Tinu Yohannan's hands at long on proving decisive.

Kartik (37 n.o.) was in punishing mood to knock off the required runs, but impatient partners denied him the opportunity. Raina had boosted Central hopes with an enterprising 94 off 95 deliveries before getting out in an attempt to accelerate.

Swapnil Asnodkar and Venugopala Rao dominated the morning session for South, with controlled strokeplay under pressure. Asnodkar seized the moment, translating potential into performance on a cool morning at the Nehru stadium. The diminutive Goa opener, thrust into a position of responsibility, overcame initial stage fright after seeing skipper V.V.S. Laxman (41 runs, eight fours) treat the Central bowling in his own special way.

The young opener played an entertaining 53 (seven boundaries) before R.P. Singh struck quick blows, reducing South from 90-2 to 170-5 before Venugopala walked in for damage control (69 runs, 67 balls, 10x4) in the middle order.

The scores:

South Zone: Vidyut c Ojha b R.P. Singh 2, S. Asnodkar c Gupta b J.P. Yadav 53, V.V.S. Laxman b R.P. Singh 41, S. Sriram c Harvinder b M. Kartik 27, Venugopala Rao c Ojha b R.P. Singh 69, A Yadav c Pagnis b Gupta 3, S. Badrinath c Ojha b R.P. Singh 28, D. Kaarthick c Ali b R.P. Singh 3, T. Yohannan c Ojha b Harvinder 3, N.C. Aiyappa (not out) 6, R. Jesuraj (not out) 3. Extras (lb-7, b-2, w-22) 31. Total 269 (in 50 overs) for nine.

Fall of wickets: 1-9, 2-90, 3-140, 4-151, 5-170, 6-233, 7-239, 8-255, 9-259.

Central Zone bowling: Harvinder 10-0-47-1, R.P Singh 10-0-58-5, J.P. Yadav 10-0-39-1, Kartik 10-0-60-1, Ali 3-0-17-0, Gupta 7-0-41-1.

Central Zone: A. Pagnis c Kaarthick b Jesuraj 23, N. Ojha b Yohannan 6, Mohd. Kaif c Kaarthick b Aiyappa 31, Abbas Ali lbw b Venugopala 6, S. Raina b Aiyappa 94, J.P. Yadav c Yohannan b Sriram 22, R. Ali c Kaarthick b Venugopala 8, M. Kartik (not out) 37, P. Gupta b Yohannan 11, Harvinder run out 2, R.P. Singh c Yohannan b Jesuraj 10. Extras (lb-5, b-1, w-6) 12. Total 262 (in 49 overs).

Fall of wickets: 1-12, 2-49, 3-68, 4-70, 5-128, 6-138, 7-222, 8-239, 9-245.

South Zone bowling: Yohannan 10-0-58-2, Jesuraj 10-1-52-2, Aiyappa 10-2-35-2, Venugopala 9-0-37-1, Sriram 8-0-61-2, Badrinath 2-0-17-0.

At Mumbai: West Zone 306 for seven in 50 over: (D. Jadhav 109; S. Parab 142; R. Bose five for 49) bt East Zone 243 (M.S. Dhoni 101)

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