Saturday, February 24, 2024

Duleep Trophy: Central and North teams in driver’s seat

After a shabby batting effort, Central Zone came roaring back into the match bowling out East Zone for 122 in their first innings to enjoy a healthy lead of 124 runs in their Duleep Trophy quarterfinal on Thursday.
Central closed the day at 64 for no loss in their second innings. They were bundled out for 182 in their first innings on Wednesday after pacer Murasingh bagged five wickets.
Pacer Avesh Khan and left-arm spinner Saurabh Kumar shared six wickets equally among them to hasten the fall of East Zone.
They resumed from the overnight 32 for 2 and were in need of a solid partnership to cover the early losses.
Having already lost captain and prolific opener Abhimanyu Easwaran, East’s biggest hope of reaching a healthy total was experienced Anustup Majumdar and Riyan Parag.
Majumdar fell cheaply for 4, while Parag showed glimpses of his skills while making a 46-ball 33. Central captain and pacer Shivam Mavi jettisoned Parag, and it signalled the end of fight for East.
Murasingh played a cameo of 34-ball 30 but that only helped to reduce the lead of Central.
In their second innings, Central gave a much better account of themselves as openers Himanshu Mantri (25) and Vivek Singh (34) stayed till the close on second day to hand their team a definite edge.
Duleep Trophy: Sindhu, Harshit centuries, bowlers give advantage to North
Nishant Sindhu and Harshit Rana carved hundreds of different shades to power North Zone to a massive 540/8 in the first innings, constructing a foundation for their bowlers to solidify that superiority over North East Zone on the second day of the Duleep Trophy quarterfinal here.
North East were 65 for 2, 475 runs in arrears, when bad light and rain forced an early closure to their first dig on Thursday.
North Zone’s travel to ascendancy began when Sindhu, overnight 76, moved on smoothly to his third first-class hundred with a single to mid-off to Dippu Sanfma.
Sindhu (150, 245 balls, 18×4, 3×6) lost his partner Pulkit Narang in the first hour itself, but NE zone had little respite as Harshit Rana (122 off 86 balls, 12×4, 9×6) came in carrying a destructive mood.
Both Sindhu, 19, and Rana, 21, have been highly rated in the domestic circuit, evidenced from them getting IPL contracts with Chennai Super Kings and Kolkata Knight Riders respectively.
Their talent was on full view here. The NE bowlers were able to purchase some movement off the deck the previous day. But as the skies remained bright during the first two sessions of the day, there was nothing for them to bank upon.
Sindhu opted for a rather traditional batting approach, selecting the freebies to open his shoulders. But at the other end, Rana purred like a race car against an attack that had little experience in bowling against such quality batters.
Rana’s innings deserves a special mention because the Delhi youngster is rated as a budding pace bowling talent. But on this day, he made an impression with the bat, a mighty one at that!
Admittedly, North East do not have a top-of-the-line bowling attack but Rana showed the presence of mind to make most of the opportunity and strike his maiden first-class century in just 70 balls. It was also the third hundred of the North innings after Sindhu and Dhruv Shorey went past the three-figure mark. Rana and Sindhu merged their contrasting style effectively to amass 104 runs for the 8th wicket in just over 17 overs. Rana was the domineering partner.
The right-hander played shots around the ground but preferred the arc between long-on and mid-wicket to find his runs. Left-arm spinner Kishan Singha was successful in containing the North batters to a certain extent on Wednesday.
But the aggression of Rana forced him to adopt a defensive field with fielders patrolling the long-on, mid-on and square-leg areas.
Sindhu fell to left-arm spinner Imliwati Letmur when North were on 476 and Rana slipped into overdrive from there in the company of Siddharth Kaul.
In seven overs, North collected 64 runs to go past the 500-run mark and 55 of those were made by Rana.
A quick spell of rain gave temporary relief to North East but North bowlers were relentless while making inroads into their top order during the extended final session.


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