When Abhimanyu Mithun hurried Basant Mohanty with a well-directed short ball, the batsman could only fend the ball awkwardly to point, where Stuart Binny accepted the catch gleefully.
Mithun stood at the centre of the wicket and celebrated, with his arms raised and an exaggerated grunt. After all, it was the 20th over of the day and the seventh-wicket partnership between Mohanty and Saurabh Tiwary was proving to be a barrier too tough to breach.
Mohanty’s (58) wicket on Monday ended a 153-run stand between the duo that had lifted East Zone team out of the doldrums, after they were reeling at 66 for six, the previous day.
Ultimately, Tiwary’s continued fight helped East reach a competitive 267 on Day 2 of the Duleep Trophy semifinal against South Zone. In turn, the East bowlers effected regular breakthroughs to ensure that South were restricted to 134 for five at stumps.
Tiwary (145) continued from where he had left on Sunday, although the batsmen who came after Mohanty could not offer much support.
He dabbed the ball to cover and ran a quick single to complete his century before acknowledging his teammates and looking up to the heaven in a silent prayer. He continued to build the innings until he ran out of partners.
Finally, a failed attempt to hammer left-arm spinner Aushik Srinivas saw him caught at long off by Manish Pandey.
Robin Uthappa (40) seemed to be in a hurry as South began their first innings. Four boundaries in an Ashok Dinda over meant the Karnataka batsman was up and running.
However, left-handed opener Abhinav Mukund (19) dug himself into a hole at the other end. Suddenly, the flow of runs stopped, which frustrated both batsmen. Abhinav tried to hit out but missed the line and was bowled by Iresh Saxena.
Uthappa, on the other hand, nicked an away going delivery from Biplab Samantray to the wicketkeeper, frustrated after having been off the strike for a while.
While Manish Pandey (31) offered resistance for a while, soon he was caught in two minds, whether to go forward or back, and was cleaned up by a Samantray in-swinger. The very next ball Stuart Binny (0) was trapped leg before by Samantray, who was on a hattrick but missed.
Scores: East Zone 267 (S Tiwary 145, B Mohanty 58; S Binny 3/46, A Mithun 4/68) vs South Zone 134 for 5 (B Samantray 3/22).