Ramesh Powar made his 100th first-class match a memorable one by spinning West Zone to their 15th triumph in Duleep Trophy. The doughty off-spinner snared seven wickets to halt South’s chase of an improbable 678-run target at 403 in Chennai on Monday.
South, resuming at 232/3 and requiring another 446 for victory, had their hopes pinned on local boys, S. Badrinath and Dinesh Karthik, to wriggle out from the grim situation. The duo did hold its ground with a 121-run stand for the fourth wicket, with Karthik being more attractive and aggressive.
Even as Badrinath watched from the other end, Karthik chose to attack the West spinners, unleashing some breathtaking strokes, driving Powar over long-on for a six and playing Rajesh Pawar inside-out for four through extra-cover.
Badrinath played cautiously, hitting along the ground most of the time. On reaching his half-century and looking good for his second century of the match, however, he carelessly lifted Pawar straight into the hands of Powar just inside the long-on rope.
From here on, Powar got down to business and picked up the remaining wickets, including that of Karthik. The Tamil Nadu batsman though got a reprieve at 69 when Pawar dropped him at long off, but he failed to make the most of the chance.
Soon after, while closely watching a Powar delivery thud into Parthiv Patel’s gloves, Karthik disturbed the stumps with the flap of his back pad to fall to a freak dismissal. The seventh-wicket pair of R. Ashwin and M. Suresh raised a 58-run stand in an hour and a half, but that just delayed the inevitable.
Powar enjoys bowling in such conditions, what with his side-on action giving him that much extra time to judge the batsmen’s last-second movements and forcing them into making mistakes. With his ten-wicket match haul, the offie, who wasn’t the first choice spinner and was dropped for the first match of Duleep Trophy, proved to his skipper that he was still quite competent. West had everything going for them after they won the toss. Their batsmen put up runs on the board, and the bowlers backed them remarkably well, ensuring the second major triumph in three weeks for skipper Wasim Jaffer, who led Mumbai to the Ranji triumph.