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Saha-vages Central into submission

cricket Updated: Feb 14, 2012 01:48 IST
Khurram Habib
Khurram Habib
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Characters liven up dull sessions, and the Holkar Stadium wasn’t devoid of such people on Monday.

The first two sessions on the second day of the Duleep Trophy final saw the sombre Central Zone players grounded by the East batsmen. The only cheer on their faces were forced by a spectator who kept pulling their leg with comments ranging from genuine criticism, like the lack of flight in Piyush Chawla's bowling to funny ones like a need to travel to Haridwar for divine intervention. http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/HTEditImages/Images/14_02_pg-20a.jpg

His antics apart, there was serious cricket with Wriddhiman Saha displaying class and temperament to put East on the cusp of history.

His 170, which saw him bat till the end of the innings, gave East a solid lead of 237 and a chance to win their first Duleep Trophy.

Man of the day

Early moisture and good bounce is a test. Wicketkeeper Saha, fresh from a good show in Australia and a ton in the Duleep semifinal at Delhi, passed it. Central bowlers gave their all, even inducing Anustup Majumdar into an early pull that went straight to mid on.

But Saha had a plan. “The ball was seaming in the first session. So I changed my plan. I attacked. The moment the track eased, I went back to normal batting.” His judgement wasn’t faulty. He let go anything on good length. A fraction up or down, he was quick to spot it. His cover drives, late glides and cuts were a treat. The six that got him to hundred was classic. He rocked back to pull Chawla over deep square-leg.

The best bits for connoisseurs came just after his ton. At the non-striker's end, he shadow-practiced his forward defence. The hunger unnerved the Central bowlers further.

His humility won him spectators. It is rare to see Test players make an effort to oblige spectators, and despite tired legs and being corralled out, he allowed them to pull him for pictures.

East had built the total in partnerships. Saha & Co ensured there was one big stand in each session. After last evening’s resistance with Amol Majumdar, he stitched key partnerships with Natraj Behera and Biplab Samantray.

Central need to do the same if they are to come back. They’ve started well though, wiping out 48 quickly.