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    Bengal thrash Assam by 53 runs in East Zone T20 opener

    Agartala: Bengal trounced Assam by 53 runs in their opening East Zone leg encounter of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Twenty20 match at the Maharaja Bir Bikram Stadium, here Sunday. Bengal captain opted to bat after winning the toss and they put up a modest 130 for five on a slow MBB Stadium track.

    However, Bengal pacers Sayan Sekhar Mondal (3/13) and Shami Ahmed (2/13) wreaked havoc as Assam were skittled out for 77 in only 16.2 overs. The victory ensured four points for Bengal from the opening tie. For the winners, it was Shreevats Goswami who top-scored with 43 off 39 balls that included four boundaries. The pint-sized left-hander however couldn't play his natural game having lost Subhamoy Das (0) to a freak run-out and Debabrata Das retired hurt on six.

    Skipper Shukla (6) and Anustup Majumdar (8) were also dismissed cheaply but Wriddhiman Saha (15) added 32 runs for the fourth wicket with Goswami. Once Saha and Goswami were dismissed in quick succession it was Arnab Nandi (20 not out) and Das (23 not out) who added 44 runs for the unbroken sixth wicket stand to clinch the issue for Bengal. Defending a small target, Bengal bowlers kept Assam under wraps and the fielding was also top notch as they effected three run-outs.

    In other matches: Openers Manish Pandey and Mayank Agarwal hammered a half century each as Karnataka scored a thumping nine-wicket victory over Goa in the South Zone leg of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy T20 zonal tournament. Agarwal (55 off 48 balls) and Pandey (55 off 57 balls) shared 108 runs for the first wicket as Karnataka chased down the target of 117 with 10 balls to spare. Karnataka lost Agarwal in the 16th over when the team total was 108, needing nine more runs to win.

    Agarwal belted four boundaries and two sixes in his knock as he guided Karnataka to 121 for one while Pandey clobbered two fours and three sixes. Goa put to use all their five bowlers but only S A Badiuzzmama could bag the lone wicket of Agarwal. Earlier, Goa started their innings badly losing five wickets for 40 runs and could only post 116 all out in 18.3 overs. Keenan Vaz top-scored with 41, while R U Shukla and R J Pinto made a quick 20 each.
    Vinay Kumar and Abhimanyu Mithun bagged two wickets each, while Stuart Binny, Pandey and right-arm off-break bowler Krishnappa Gowtham chipped in with one wicket each.

    In another encounter, Tamil Nadu beat Andhra Pradesh by eight wickets as they successfully chasing down a target of 107, but before losing two wickets. Abhinav Mukund and K B Arun Karthik saw their team race past Andhra's target after Tamil Nadu lost two wickets for 35 runs in the eighth over. Mukund scored 33 runs off 33 balls with two hits to the fence, while Karthik made 38 off 34 balls with four boundaries.

    Srikkanth Anirudha and in-form batsman Baba Aparajith took the team's total to 30 in 5.5 overs, before the later was caught by B Sudhakar off A G Praveen. Soon Aniruddha left the scene after making 19 off 25 balls with two boundaries to his credit.

    A stroke-filled 87 by opener Asad Pathan helped Gujarat thrash Maharashtra by eight wickets in the inaugural match of the West Zone Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy at the Motera 'B' ground. Asad, who was dropped twice during his innings, hit seven sixes and six fours in his 44-ball knock as Gujarat overhauled Maharashtra's 147-8 in 14.2 overs, to begin their campaign on a winning note.

    The Bharuch-based Asad, who opened the innings for Gujarat with captain and wicket-keeper Parthiv Patel, was severe on spinners. He hit two sixes in the fifth over off the bowling of Shubham Ranjane as Gujarat raced away to 67 in six overs, despite losing Parthiv early. The dimunitive wicket-keeper had hit four crisp boundaries in his short innings and provided the initial momentum. Parthiv was out for 18 trying to loft pacer Samad Fallah over the infield, caught at mid-off by Kedar Jadhav.

    Niraj Patel, who came to bat in at Number 3, anchored the innings even as Asad hit boundaries at will. Even after the powerplay ended, the opener hit a six over mid-wicket off the bowling of off-spinner Ankit Bawne before being dropped by Akshay Darekar in the next ball at long-on.The drop proved to be a costly one as Asad cut left-arm spinner Darekar behind point for a boundary and pulled him over mid-wicket for another four in the next over as the home team accumulated 90 in eight overs.

    In need of a wicket to get back into the contest, visiting captain Rohit Motwani brought back his strike bowler Fallah to the attack and he responded by trapping southpaw Niraj with a low, full ball in front of the wicket. Niraj, had however, played his part by adding 86 runs for the second wicket with Asad. Niraj's departure brought Manpreet Juneja to the wicket who helped himself to 14 runs off 8 balls, including a six over deep mid-wicket, as he, in the company of Asad, took Gujarat home without any further hiccups.

    Earlier, invited to bat first, Maharashtra began on a sedate note with openers Harshad Khadiwale and Vijay Zol putting on 32 runs for the first wicket before the former was caught by Akshar Patel off the bowling of pacer Mehul Patel for 10. Thereafter, Zol departed for 23 caught by Juneja off the bowling of Mehul as the visitors slumped to 34-2.

    Nikhil Naik and Kedar Jadhav consolidated by putting on 57 runs for the third wicket before the latter was bowled by left-arm orthodox Akshar Patel for 19 runs. Naik, who hit 52 off 34 balls with four sixes and three boundaries, was joined by Prayag Bhati and the duo took the score to 114 before Akshar had Naik caught by Jesal Karia. Bhati hit five boundaries and remained unbeaten on 30.

    Maharashtra's lower middle-order failed to make any substantial contribution as Jaspreet Bumrah bowled a tight last over conceding just five runs, helping to keep the visitors under 150. For Gujarat, Akshar and Mehul took three wickets each conceding 21 and 33 runs, respectively. Bumrah took a wicket in his four overs conceding 20 runs.

    "I was hitting balls which were in my range. Went in with a positive frame of mind. The wicket was good to bat on," Asad told reporters after the match. Gujarat coach Mukund Parmar said the team will have to improve their fielding before the next match. "The boys played brilliantly. But, we dropped a few catches and have to improve our ground fielding," said Parmar.