Baba Aparajith © Getty Images (File Photo)
Baba Aparajith was the only Tamil Nadu batsman in the top six © Getty Images (File Photo)

Nov 29, 2014

A fantastic century from Baba Aparajith and a belligerent 74 from Karun Nair helped South Zone to a commanding total of 296 for nine in the Deodhar Trophy quarter final at Mumbai on Saturday. Perhaps the best batting side of the tournament, South were in trouble at 88 for three before Aparajith and Nair added 124 runs in quick time for the fourth wicket.

Robin Uthappa was the first man to be dismissed when he edged Pankaj Singh to wicketkeeper Jitesh Sharma. Mayank Agarwal was batting well on 35 off 53 balls before he suffered a rush of blood and tried a cut shot that resulted in him being caught in the slips off Ishwar Pandey. Manish Pandey was bowled by Anureet Singh soon thereafter to leave South in a spot of bother.

With as many as four Karnataka batsmen in the top five, Aparajith was the only Tamil Nadu batsman in the top six. However, he proved proved his worth by working hard for his runs at the start. His partnership with Nair was characterised by frequent boundaries. Nair was the aggressor, but Aparajith ensured that he kept up his pace as well, as South reached 212 in the 39th over before Nair was dismissed for 74.

Sanju Samson did not last long, perishing in the quest for quick runs when he pulled Jalaj Saxena to Ishwar Pandey in the deep. Sachin Baby came in at No. 7 and boosted the run rateas well. Aparajith soon got to his century, and continued playing the big its at will. He was finally out in the 47th over to a tired slog, holing out to Mukul Dagar in the deep off Saxena.

South lost a bunch of wickets at the death, including three in the final over bowled by Pankaj — who took five — but still managed to end with a commanding total. It will require a particularly good chase from Central to pull off a win.

Brief scores:

South Zone 296 for 9 in 50 overs (Baba Aparajith 113, Karun Nair 74; Jalaj Saxena 2 for 46, Pankaj Singh 5 for 45) vs Central Zone.