East Zone completed their outright win over West Zone on the last day of the Duleep Trophy quarterfinal on Monday.
The target of 173 was reached by Biplab Samantray (27 no) with a cover drive for four off Sandip Maniar early in the last session, sealing a five-wicket win. West Zone’s left-arm spinner Akshay Darekar, coming off a 32-wicket haul in the Ranji Trophy season, led the fight with five wickets but West failed to make inroads into the tail.
After East had nudged ahead on the first innings, the only hopes for West lay in pulling off an outright victory, but East’s sixth wicket pair of Samantary and Anustup Majumdar (26 no) held firm to ensure they will face North in the semi-final in New Delhi starting on Saturday.
The day had started with West’s Abhishek Nayar (58) and Kaustubh Pawar (37) attack pacer Ashok Dinda, but West could only manage 201.
The Valsad pitch, with decent grass cover, was the real winner with 1,031 runs scored, 35 wickets taken and both teams were in the race till the end.
West coach Sulakshan Kulkarni said: “This is how a pitch should be, to improve the quality of cricket in India.”
His counterpart and ex-India pacer Debashish Mohanty said. “It must be something to do with the red soil they use, but this had assistance for everyone.”
Brief Scores: West Zone 314 & 201; East Zone 343 & 173/5 (Behera 34; Darekar 5-87)