West Zone thrash England Lions by 9 wickets to reach final

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Vadodara, Feb 14 (UNI) Brilliant bowling by offie Yusuf Pathan (five for 35) and medium pacer Siddharth Trivedi (four for 28) helped West Zone move to the finals of the Duleep Trophy notching up a dramatic nine-wicket victory over England Lions on the fourth and final day of their group 'B' match, played at the Motibaug Palace Cricket Ground here today.

The winners, who needed an outright victory against the visitors in order to make it to the finals of the championship, rallied in a splendid manner through Pathan and Trivedi as they bundled out their opponents for a paltry 165 and then rattled up the 27 runs required with 12 mandatory overs to spare.

West Zone will now take on defending champions and group 'A' topper North Zone in the final to be played at Mumbai from February 19.

A jubilant West Zone skipper Parthiv Patel attributed the team's spectacular victory to the record 342-run second wicket stand between Wasim Jaffer and Ajinkya Rahane, that helped the side gain a huge 139-run first innings lead, and splendid bowling by Pathan and Trivedi, who restricted England Lions to 165 in their second knock.

''It is a good fight back. Now we have a big opportunity to grab the title in the finals,'' Patel said.

With five points in their kitty, England Lions, who needed just a draw with West Zone to enter the finals in their maiden appearance in Duleep Trophy, failed to handle the pressure as they resumed batting with the overnight score of 14 for the loss of skipper Michael Yardy.

Bowling with immaculate line and length, Pathan and Trivedi ripped through the England Lions batting line up. While seven of England batsmen failed to reach even the double figure mark, one-down Ed Joyce (66, 136b, 9x4) and Adil Rashid (39, 106b, 4x4) saved the side from the ignominy of an innings defeat with sensible batting.

After reducing England Lions to 109 for five at lunch, West Zone demolished their opponents at 165 all out twenty-five minutes before tea, with Trivedi striking thrice in a row. Trivedi, who trapped Liam Plunkett (5) and Graham Onions (0) leg before in two consecutive deliveries in his 13th over, was denied a hattrick by Steve Kirby.

Chasing a slender victory target of 27 runs in as many overs, West Zone hit up 28 in 14.2 overs losing the lone wicket of 19-year-old Mumbai batsman Ajinkay Rahane.

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