Guwahati: Young Baba Aparajith scored his maiden century in limited-overs cricket as South Zone beat East by 11 runs in the Deodhar Trophy quarter-final here on Sunday. South will now take on West Zone in the second semi-final slated on Tuesday.
Opting to bat at the Nehru Stadium in Guwahati, South Zone posted a healthy total of 284 for 5 in 50 overs riding on Aparajith's 121. The India colts player played 129 balls and hit 10 fours and three sixes in his innings. In reply, East managed to 273 for 7 with skipper Wriddhiman Saha top-scoring with 77 and Ishank Jaggi managing to hit 55.
It was the 89 runs given by the East Zone bowlers in the final 10 overs of the South innings that turned out to be decisive. Apart from Aparajith, the other notable contributor was former India opener Robin Uthappa who managed a patient 48 off 75 balls with six fours.
Having lost other opener Lokesh Rahul (0) in the very second over, Uthappa and No. 3 batsman Aparajith added 95 runs for the second wicket before the former retired hurt. Skipper Dinesh Karthik (33) joined Aparajith and they added 59 runs for the third wicket.
The late flourish was provided by Kerala's one-day captain Sachin Baby smashing an unbeaten 33 off 19 balls with five fours. The last five overs yielded 48 runs with India pacer Shami Ahmed giving away 60 runs in 11 overs.
Chasing 285, Wriddhiman tried his best as his 72-ball 77 had four boundaries and three sixes. Even Jaggi and Gokul Sharma (40) got some runs but Abhimanyu Mithun (3 for 40) and Aparajith (1 for 26) bowled tightly as they conceded only 66 runs in 16 overs taking four wickets in the process.
South Zone: 284 for 5 (Baba Aparajith 121, R Uthappa 48, S Baby 33*; Shami Ahmed 2 for 60)
East Zone: 273 for 7 (Wriddhiman Saha 77, Ishank Jaggi 55; Abhimanyu Mithun 3 for 40)