Mumbai: East Zone put up a sterling all-round display to defeat holders West Zone by 24 runs in a keenly contested day/night final of the Deodhar Trophy, regaining the limited-over inter zonal title after a gap of ten seasons.
East rode on crucial half century knocks from one-down Virat Singh (54), captain and in-form Manoj Tiwary (75) and Biplab Samantray (60) to recover from a sorry-reading five for two and post a challenging score of 269 for eight.
Set an asking rate of 5.4, West, bidding for their 13th crown and fourth on the trot, also rallied from a poor start after being anchored by a well-measured innings of 97 off 91 balls by diminutive Maharashtra batsman Kedar Jadhav.
However, they fell short of the target to be all out for 245 in 47.2 overs in the face of some very tight bowling by East, led superbly by Bengal pacer Ashok Dinda who gave them a flying start by capturing three wickets in his first six-over spell and then came back at the death to take the wicket of Suryakumar Yadav (35) and end West's hopes.
They kept the free-scoring lower-order batsmen of West in control in the batting power play as well as the last ten overs to help East triumph for the fifth time in the tournament's history, the last time being in 2003-04.
Dinda ended up with superb figures of 4 for 33 while left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem captured 2 for 42 and medium pacer Samantray secured 2 for 52. Other bowlers also did a good job in helping defend the score on a flat track.
Axar Patel and Shardul Thakur briefly threatened to take away the game but East bowlers and fielders kept their wits and sent both back in time to stop West's march. Earlier, electing to bat, East built their total around Tiwary's 92-ball 75, Singh's 54 in 84 balls and Samantray's blistering 60 off 50 balls.
After the fall of two early wickets by the fourth over, East were revived by a century partnership for the third wicket between skipper and man-in-form Tiwary and one-down batsman Singh.
Later, Samantray struck a few lusty blows in making a hard-hitting half ton, inclusive of one six and seven fours to take the score past 250. Opting to bat first, East commenced in poor fashion by losing openers Shreevats Goswami and Ishank Jaggi with only five on board. Both fell to poor shots chasing wide balls, edging to the wicketkeeper.
Then came the rebuilding phase with Tiwary, who struck four sixes and three fours, again acting as the fulcrum in his 135-run stand off 165 balls with left-handed Virat Singh.
Tiwary, who had staked a strong claim for the Indian World Cup preliminary squad of 30 to be picked tomorrow with a sterling knock of 151 in the semifinal against North Zone, looked in prime touch from the first ball he had faced.
He danced down the wicket and smacked his counterpart Yusuf Pathan for two sixes in one over after smashing Axar over the straight field. But he was lucky when wicketkeeper Smit Patel put him down off the next ball.
Virat was the man to depart, caught at long off while trying to clear the rope after hitting six fours. Tiwary, who showed twinkle toes in advancing down the track to smack the spinners, left eight runs later caught in the deep off Dhawal Kulkarni and it was a big setback for East.
But Samantray played well and outshone senior partner Saurabh Tiwary (29) during their enterprising stand of 75 runs in only 70 balls. Thanks to Samantray's attacking innings and a quick 21 by Kumar Deobrat, East set West a challenging task.
The last 10 overs produced 81 runs, including 46 in the last five, while the batting power play yielded 35 runs. Kulkarni was the pick of the West bowlers with figures of 2 for 35 while his new ball partner Domnic Muthuswami also took 2 wickets for 57 runs.
Chasing, West too started on the backfoot against some fiery bowling by Ashok Dinda who sent back Smit Patel, Sheldon Jackson and Ambati Rayudu in his first spell of six overs. All three were out to balls pitched wide of off stump.
Dinda had an able foil in his Bengal teammate Veer Pratap Singh as the duo choked West to 37 for three in 10.3 overs.
The innings was revived by Jadhav. The 29-year-old strung together two important partnerships ? 74 in 88 balls with his Maharashtra teammate Ankit Bawne and then 84 off 89 runs with Yadav.
Jadhav, who picked up some pace later and even reached his half century with a six, was grassed by Kumar Deobrat off Lahiri at long on when West needed 117 in the last 17 overs.
He was out off the last ball of the 40th over, bowled while trying an almighty heave off left arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem. After his dismissal, West needed 75 more runs in the last 10 overs.
It was then left to Yadav, who made a blistering 80 against South in the semis, captain Pathan and the others to get the runs in the slog overs. But they could not.
Brief scores: East Zone 269 for 8 (Virat Singh 54, Manoj Tiwary 75, Biplab Samantray 60; Dhawal Kulkarni 2 for 35, Domnic Muthuswami 2 for 57) beat West Zone 245 all out in 47.2 overs (Kedar Jadhav 97; Ashok Dinda 4 for 33, Shahbaz Nadeem 2 for 42).