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East falter on last day, North advance

With their Captain Fantastic back in the hut, rest of the East batsmen acquiesced to the demands of the North bowlers, reports Varun Gupta.

india Updated: Nov 07, 2006 21:22 IST

The silence was complete - one could have dropped a pin and heard the sound resonate. Minutes earlier, when Sourav Ganguly, with his regal gait and pronounced swagger, strode to the middle, one could have screamed one's lungs out and still struggled to hear one's own voice. Now even a whisper would have sounded like a war cry as an eerie silence descended over the Nehru Stadium.

Ganguly, 118 overnight, lasted only ten balls on Tuesday before being sent back for an early shower without adding to his tally. And all it took for the interest in this Duleep Trophy tie between North and East Zone to be killed were the morning's first 17 balls, the deliveries bowled between Ganguly's entry and hasty exit.

With their Captain Fantastic back in the hut - who had led the way out of wilderness on Monday by scoring an unfettered century - the rest of the East batsmen acquiesced to the demands of the North bowlers, capitulating at 295.

In their second innings, North crawled to 65 for one, with out-of-form batsmen Aakash Chopra and Ravneet Ricky spending vital time in the middle. Chopra remained unbeaten on 23 off 81 balls while Ricky was dismissed for 32 off 72. Both spent time in the middle, and that should help them iron out certain deficiencies in the mind, if not in their game.

The match was called off after tea as the light was fading and continuing the game served little purpose.

North, thus, made it to the final of the Duleep Trophy, which will be held in Kolkata from November 12.

North took the field in the morning with renewed intent and vigour. Knowing fully well that a repeat of Monday's languid show could affect their bid to reach the final, every ounce of their energy was channelled into a display of power and aggression. This was obvious by the way they bowled the first 10 balls to Ganguly - all of them sent down the corridor of uncertainty, allowing the southpaw no room to swing his arms.

Then came the fall: In the day's third over, Joginder got Ganguly to prod tentatively at a delivery that swung away from him, and the resultant faint edge off the bat was gobbled neatly by wicketkeeper Mahesh Rawat.

East were under the cosh immediately and although Rohan Gavaskar played a couple of sterling strokes - the cover-driven six off Ashish Nehra was a connoisseur's delight - East never had a chance to save the game by overtaking the North total.

When off-spinner Rajesh Sharma came on to bowl, slips and gullies abounded in cosy circles, supported by short-leg and silly point. And soon Gavaskar wilted under the pressure, his stumps disturbed by a Sharma ripper that turned square.

Left-arm spinner Vishal Bhatia then snared Deep Dasgupta for 32 as the former India wicketkeeper drove high to the covers, to be snapped up by Mitthun Manhas.

Gagandeep Singh and Nehra then picked a wicket each and when Sharma picked Debashish Mohanty on the second ball after lunch, the writing was on the wall.