Guwahati, Mar 10: Under-19 World Cup winner Baba Aparajith struck a fine century to guide South Zone into the semi-finals of the Deodhar Trophy here on Sunday. South Zone defeated East Zone by 11 runs in the quarter-finals at Nehru Stadium.
Chasing 285 for victory, East Zone captain Wriddhiman Saha (77, 72 balls, 4x4 3x6) and Ishank Jaggi (55, 67 balls, 5x4, 1x6) led the reply. At 220/7 in 44.4 overs, it looked like South would win easily. But Abu Nechim and Gokul Sharma fought hard till the end and brought it to 20 runs required off the final over bowled by paceman R Vinay Kumar.
A boundary off the third ball from Sharma made it 13 needed off three. Vinay came back strongly to bowl a dot ball. Then it was 13 off 2 and Sharma managed just a single. With 12 needed off the final ball, the match was in South's favour. The final ball was a dot ball. The duo of Sharma and Nechim had an unfinished partnership of 53 off 5.2 overs but failed to take East home.
South Zone will face West Zone in the second semi-final on March 12. The other last-four clash on March 11 features Central Zone and North Zone. The final will be held on March 13.
Right-arm paceman Abhimanyu Mithun was the most successful bowler for South Zone. He took three wickets in his 10-over spell.
Earlier, after a disastrous start, South Zone picked up pace thanks to Aparajith's knock. The right-hander from Tamil Nadu made 121 off 129 balls with 10 fours and three sixes.
South Zone lost opener KL Rahul for a duck on the seventh ball of the innings bowled by Basant Mohanty. The first over was a maiden. From 0/1, they recovered through Robin Uthappa (48 retired hurt) and number three batsman Aparajith. Uthappa seemed to be struggling with cramps and had to be carried off the ground.
Kerala's Sachin Baby scored a 19-ball 33 not out with five boundaries towards the closing stages of the innings.
South Zone 284/5 in 50 overs (Baba Aparajith 121, Robin Uthappa 48 retired hurt, Dinesh Karthik 33, Sachin Baby 33 not out, Shami Ahmed 2/60) beat East Zone 273/7 in 50 overs (Wriddhiman Saha 77, Ishank Jaggi 55, Gokul Sharma 40 not out, Abu Nechim 26 not out, Sibsankar Roy 26, Abhimanyu Mithun 3/40)