There were cheers all around as Ashok Dinda led his team, East Zone, to the dressing room on Wednesday afternoon. After all, the paceman had turned the game on its head in the session before tea, claiming all seven wickets to have fallen during that period.
Dinda put paid to all hopes South Zone were harbouring of victory in the Duleep Trophy semifinal, grabbing seven wickets for 26 runs. Finally, chasing 239 in 51 overs, South were reduced to 85 for eight when the teams decided to shake hands. Thus, defending champions East booked their place in the final against Central on the basis of first innings lead.
Dinda bowled an unrelenting spell of 11 overs in the afternoon session even though he was sweating profusely and showing signs of fatigue. He needed some luck to start with, and Abhinav Mukund (2) provided it when he played on a delivery from the bowler.
From thereon, it was Dinda at full throttle. He did stretching exercises in between overs while fielding at deep fine leg to be ready for the next over.
The ferocious spell was interspersed with bouncers, surprise in-swingers and away-going deliveries.
The odd ball, which kept low on the last day, did not do the batsmen any good either.
And, by the time he had Vinay Kumar caught behind trying to fish outside off, the nails had been hammered in the South Zone coffin. The target for the home team was like a mountain.
Earlier, Basant Mohanty (35) and Biplab Samantray (52), who was adjudged the man of the match for his all-round showing, frustrated the South Zone bowlers by occupying the crease for most of the morning session. Vinay Kumar wrapped up the tail, restricting East to 215. A target of 239 at 4.68 per over looked achievable for South. But Dinda had other ideas.
Brief Scores: East Zone 267 and 215 (Behera 60, Kumar 3-10) drew with South Zone 244 and 85-8 (Appanna 24, Dinda 7-26)