Mohali: Central Zone comfortably beat South Zone by four wickets to enter the sem-final of the Deodhar Trophy Zonal One Day championship.
Opting to field, Central bowlers restricted South to 224 for nine in 50 overs on a batting friendly pitch at the PCA Stadium in Mohali and then surpassed the target with 63 balls to spare.
Speedster Umesh Yadav who played his first competitive match after being ruled out due to injury during the last phase of the ODI tri-series in Australia bowled his full quota of 10 overs getting one for 35 in the process.
Coming on to bowl one-change, Yadav got rid of Dwarka Ravi Teja (32) caught by Taduri Sudhindra. Apart from skipper Dinesh Karthik (52, 68 balls, 4x4, 1x6), none of the South Zone batsmen were able to convert starts.
Karthik along with Kerala batsman Rohan Prem (38) added 78 runs for the fourth wicket but once Karthik was dismissed by offie Jalaj Saxena, their innings fell apart. Saxena had figures of three for 39 to show for his efforts while new-ball bowler Bhuvaneswar Kumar (3/43) also got vital breakthroughs.
In reply, Naman Ojha (26, 23 balls, 3x4, 2x6) and Jalaj Saxena (32, 26 balls, 5x4, 1x6) blasted new ball bowlers Abhimanyu Mithun (2/58) and Ronit More (0/42) in the initial overs as Central raced their way to 76 in less than 10 overs.
That set the tone for veteran Mohammed Kaif (50, 58 balls, 7x4) to anchor the Central innings. Ashok Menaria (37), Robin Bist (28 no) and skipper Piyush Chawla (34, 25 balls, 5x4, 1x6) all made small but useful contributions as winners reached the target in 39.3 overs.
Central will now play North Zone in the semi-final at Dharamsala on March 18.
Brief Scores: South Zone 224/9 in 50 overs (D Karthik 52, R Prem 38, J Saxena 3/39, B Kumar 3/43).
Central Zone 225/6 in 39.3 overs (M Kaif 50, P Chawla 34, A Menaria 37). Central won by 4 wkts.