The 2023 Deodhar Trophy came to an exciting finish on Thursday night, with finalists South Zone and East Zone clashing in the final at the Cricket Association of Puducherry Siechem Ground in Puducherry. In what turned out to be a rather interesting chase, East Zone fell short by 45 runs as Mayank Agarwal and Co. lifted the trophy to complete their unbeaten run in the competition. 

Despite being set a massive target of 329, East Zone came agonisingly close, thanks to Riyan Parag's valiant innings of 95. Walking out to bat with his team precariously placed at 72/4, Riyan's aggressive style of play pushed the South Zone bowlers on the back foot. He then went on to build a 105-run partnership with wicket-keeper Kumar Kushagra, with the latter playing anchor as Parag went after the bowlers. His 65-run knock was laced with 8 fours and 5 sixes, with as many as 42 of his runs in boundaries coming off the pull shot alone. Kushagra too brought up his half-century in the process, and the duo instilled some hope in the East Zone dugout. However, the chase eventually ended in heartbreak with spinner Washington Sundar picking the wickets of both set batters.



Man with the Midas Touch

For his all-round performance of 354 runs and 11 wickets in 5 matches, Riyan Parag was rightfully adjudged the Player of the Tournament. The 21-year-old missed the opening game due to his commitments for India A at the ACC Emerging Teams Asia Cup but came in all guns blazing from the second match onwards. His match-winning hundreds against North Zone (131) and West Zone (102*) and stunning four-wicket hauls against North East Zone and North Zone were all instrumental in his team making it to the final. 



The fact that all his big knocks came in different scenarios, but batting at the same position (No.6) speaks volumes of his game awareness and the ability to adapt. Against North Zone, his typical T20-style century ensured the team got to a 300-plus total. The same match also saw him weaving magic with his off-spin, his 4 wickets helping East Zone seal an 88-run win. Riyan then went on to score a 68-ball 102* against West Zone, this time upping the ante of his shot-making even further. Perhaps the most crucial knock came in the final, a swashbuckling 95 under pressure with higher stakes and a potential title win on the line.