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East is best, Central cave in without fight

First-class games in India are largely dull affairs. Two reasons are attributed to this, lifeless or doctored tracks and just four days to force a result.

cricket Updated: Feb 15, 2012 00:51 IST
Khurram Habib

First-class games in India are largely dull affairs. Two reasons are attributed to this, lifeless or doctored tracks and just four days to force a result.

The Duleep Trophy final, the highest in the hierarchy of domestic first class games, had none of these shortcomings. It was played on a brilliant track, prepared by Taposh Chatterjee and Samandar Singh, where the ball carried head high to the 'keeper even on Day 3. And there were five days to get a result. But Central Zone still made a mockery of it, lacking both pride and technique to go down in two-and-a-half days, on Tuesday.

To win by an innings and 20 runs despite making just 370 runs requires persistance and teamwork. East, with no big names, were still up to it. “It is a young side, but the best I have seen in years. They played like a team. Ashok Dinda and Mohd Shami attacked while Basant Mohanty stopped runs,” said team manager Samir Dasgupta.

HOPEFUL
There was still hope for the hosts when the day began. They were 189 behind but the track was good. But Dinda and Shami, with young legs and uncluttered minds, were ready with scorchers. The former banged it in, the latter released it nicely. Their pace was quick and they extracted appreciable bounce, and Shami in particular, produced deceptive movement. And the Central batsmen lost their nerve.

The most experienced of them, Mohammad Kaif, set a bad precedent. Never a comfortable puller, Kaif played one against Shami. The ball ballooned up and was taken at short mid-wicket. Half the side fell to pull shots, ignoring the need to play measured shots. http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/HTEditImages/Images/15-02-12-metro20.jpg

As many as three catches were dropped in slips and gully off Shami, including two off batsman Mohnish Mishra. Shami also struck Mishra on the head. “They've played enough cricket to know what shots to play,” rued Central skipper Piyush Chawla.

Shaky order
Team sheets too provide reasons for the poor show. Jalaj Saxena, without a fifty and just a 5-wicket haul this season, opened for Central in a game which is just a notch below Test cricket. His 46 on Monday was his highest for the season. Some others to make the cut too didn't measure up. Not one batsman tried to settle and stave off an innings defeat. In contrast, East appeared a well-oiled machine. They beat three Zones in their rivals' home venues to make history. Importantly, they threw up players you'll want to see playing for India in the years to come — Wriddhiman Saha, Ashok Dinda and Mohammed Shami.