Ashok Dinda, with 52 first-class wickets this season, has added life to every game he’s played. This five-day Duleep Trophy final, where his East Zone takes on Central Zone from Sunday, should be no exception.
The wiry paceman has all that revs up a game — an athletic run-up, a jump at the crease, a grunt at the point of delivery and wicket-taking skills. He’s maintained all of these qualities throughout the last three-and-a-half months in which he’s bowled 337 overs over eight games.
“I have worked on building strength, accuracy and run-up this season,’’ the Bengal bowler said. His hardwork
is paying off and he is in serious reckoning for an India call-up.
Here, his first test will be the attacking Central Zone opener Naman Ojha, who hit a quick ton in the semifinal against South Zone. It will a key battle that could well decide the war. Thus, a friendly banter between them on the eve of the match came as a pleasant surprise.
Mohammad Kaif, along with Yuvraj Singh, was at one point anointed the successor to India’s batting stalwarts. But the Uttar Pradesh batsman could never live up to the billing. However, his century at No. 3 in the first innings of the semifinal showed his mettle. With India’s batting looking aged and ragged, there is no harm if Kaif tries to score some points.
While all the talk revolves around Dinda, TP Sudhindra will start for Central Zone. The Holkar stadium, a vibrant venue due to its colourful stands, is his home ground. He doesn’t have the effervescence of Dinda, but knows this track well and was the highest wicket-taker in Ranji Trophy for Madhya Pradesh. The wicket has a green layer and is expected to roll out well for batsmen later. An interesting point to note: With 50% matches producing results, Central Zone tracks have been the most result-oriented.
The three traditionally powerful zones, North, South and West, are not in the final. East are gunning for their first title and Central have won it just four times. It is tough to pick the favourite. But Central have players with more experience.
East Zone: D Jadhav, M Vardhan, N Behera (C), I Jaggi, W Saha (wk), B Samantray, A Majumdar, S Nadeem, B Mohanty, S Ahmed, A Dinda.
central Zone: N Ojha (wk), V Saxena, M Kaif, M Mishra, R Bist, P Singh, J Saxena, P Chawla, B Kumar, T Sudhindra, Pankaj Singh/Rituraj Singh.