South Zone have raced to a position of strength against West Zone in the final of the Duleep Trophy. After being bowled out for a decent 400, South Zone hit back to skittle out West for just 251 to earn a healthy 149-run lead.
Resuming on 356 for 6, South could add only 44 runs before being bowled out. Dinesh Karthik, who needed another 39 runs to complete a double century, missed the feat by 17 runs when Dhaval Kulkarni had him caught by Bhavin Thaker for 183. Once Karthik was gone, West didn’t take long to wrap up the innings.
Irfan Pathan emerged pick of the bowlers. The left-arm seamer rattled the hosts’ top order by picking up three quick wickets on the first day, and he returned to pick up two more to complete a five-wicket haul.
West, in reply, were off to as disastrous start as South Zone. Chandrasekhar Ganapathy, who returned with a five-wicket haul, ripped apart their top order by picking up four wickets in quick succession. Opener Chirag Pathak, Harshad Khadiwale, Wasim Jaffer and Thaker were back in the pavilion with just 70 runs on the board.
At this stage, South would have expected their opponents to drop anchor and play safe. They were, however, in for a surprise as Yusuf Pathan launched a furious fight back. The feisty middle-order batsman threw caution to the wind and went on an all-out offensive to bring up his hundred in 71 balls, studded with 12 boundaries and four sixes. Going by the way he was hammering the bowlers, it appeared as though West might go past South’s total. But Aushik Srinivas poured cold water on these hopes when he trapped Pathan leg before for 108. West were down to 161 for 6. To the credit of South Zone’s bowlers, they didn’t allow any other batsmen to settle even after Yusuf sent them on a leather hunt. As a result, West were bowled out for mere 251.
South were 42 for no loss in their second innings.