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West hold upper hand in Deodhar final

 MUMBAI, Dec 2 (PTI): Defending champions and hosts West Zone will have a clear edge over strong challengers, East Zone when the two teams meet in the day/night final of the Deodhar Trophy inter-zonal limited over competition at the Wankhede Stadium here tomorrow.

Even though East have scripted a more comfortable victory over last year’s runners-up North Zone, winning by 52 runs in the first semi-final on November 30, West stunned front runners South Zone with a spectacular come from behind two-wicket triumph yesterday in the second semi-final.

West Zone have the home advantage, with the wicket prepared for the semifinal yesterday and to be used for the final also, not having the pace and bounce of the track that was made by the curator for the first two games of the tournament.

The home team possesses better all-round strength than East, which is highly dependent on captain Manoj Tiwary.

With batting holding the key to the outcome, West’s formidable depth in this department as well as the overall quality gives them a major advantage.

In the semifinal tie, West were down in the dumps but lapses in the field by South, who put down catches offered twice by hard-hitting top scorer Suryakumar Yadav and by growing-in-stature all-rounder Axar Patel, helped West advancing to the final.

Even in the absence of their two key batsmen – India stars Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane – West have strong batting line up with the likes of Ambati Rayudu and captain Yusuf Pathan in the top of the order.

East, in comparison, depend heavily on Tiwary, who singlehandedly won them the semifinal with a sparkling and career-best knock of 151 against North.

They are certainly missing the all-round prowess and experience of the injured Laxmi Ratan Shukla.

Shreevats Goswami promised much after opening the innings, but could not make his good start count, while the other batsmen, except Tiwary, flopped. There is a distinct likelihood of East, who won the championship last in 2003-04 season, making a couple of changes by bringing in the more experienced Ishank Jaggi and Pritam Das into the playing eleven for tomorrow’s game.

Four-time title winners East, have a decent seam attack led by the Bengal duo of Ashok Dinda and Veer Pratap Singh. Even the medium pace of swing bowler Biplab Samantray is expected to come in handy.

Shahbaz Nadeem and Saurasish Lahiri provide good spin options for East, but the duo has to conquer the lack of pace and bounce on what promises to be another flat track.

West’s new ball attack, meanwhile, looked lightweight against South on the featherbed wicket with the lack of pace of Shardul Thakur, particularly a worrying factor.

The Mumbai player, however, made it up somewhat with some smart fielding and a whirlwind cameo in the end.

Third medium pacer – Maharashtra’s Domnic Muthswami – bowled well to his field and brought down the South run-rate, while Axar also bowled economically and these two would be expected to repeat their performance. But the hosts bowling, overall, looks below par.

The team winning the toss is once again expected to insert the other side in to negate the dew factor in the evening that could make the ball wet and slippery for the fielding side.

Teams (from): East Zone: Manoj Tiwary (captain), Ashok Dinda, Saurasish Lahiri, Shreevats Goswami, Virat Singh, Saurabh Tiwary, Kumar Deobrat, Rahul Shukla, Shahbaz Nadeem, Ishank Jaggi, Parvez Aziz, Pritam Das, Deepak Behera and Arvind Singh.

West Zone: Yusuf Pathan (capt), Ambati Rayudu (vice-capt), Smit Patel, Sheldon Jackson, Kedar Jadhav, Ankit Bawne, Suryakumar Yadav, Akshar Patel, Dhawal Kulkarni, Shardul Thakur, Rush Kalaria, Dominic Joseph, Deepak Hooda, Shreyas Iyer, Arpit Vasavada.

The match starts at 2 30 pm.

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