There is a very thin line between confidence and overconfidence. S. Badrinath demonstrated it in ample measure as South Zone beat Central Zone by five wickets in the Duleep Trophy semifinal here on Friday.
Resuming on 57 for one, a confident South came to bat on the final day but lost Abhinav Mukund (19) and A. Karthik (33) early to Pankaj Singh and Praveen Kumar respectively. That’s where Central became overconfident and all their bowlers became ineffective.
Manish Pandey (59) and skipper S. Badrinath (82) were crucial in stitching together a 108-run partnership for the fourth wicket.
Pandey was especially harsh on Piyush Chawla and hit him to every corner of the park. Chawla proved costly in his very first over as he gave away 18 runs. Later, R. Ashwin (59) too hit him for three boundaries when the leggie bowled from the Media End.
Though Pandey hit eight boundaries and a six in the 72 balls he faced, it was unfortunate to see him throw away his wicket to RP Singh, after settling down. R. Ashwin, who picked six wickets on the penultimate day, showed his talent with the bat scoring 59 off 44 balls and remaining unbeaten.
At lunch, the score was 201 for 4 and it appeared that Central Zone had given up. South captain S. Badrinath commended his players for the all-round performance, saying, “Our bowlers and batsmen gave their best and this is the only thing one needs to win.”
Mohammad Kaif, on the other hand, wished his spinner had clicked. “The first hour, when Praveen and Pankaj got wickets, was good. Had any of our spinners ---Chawla or Jalaj --- picked three-four wickets, we would have won this match,” he said.