A seventh-wicket stand of 137 between Lasintha Warnapura and Kaushal Silva helped Sri Lanka A to a three-wicket win over South Zone on Tuesday and made them the first foreign team to reach the Duleep Trophy final.
Chasing 273 to win after VVS Laxman declared his team's second innings at the overnight score of 333 for four, the islanders were reduced to 131 for six just after lunch on the final day at the Eden Gardens before being rescued by Lasintha Warnapura and Kaushal Silva.
The nephew of Sri Lanka's first Test captain, Bandula Warnapura, Lasintha remained unbeaten on 111 after coming in at No 3. Wicketkeeper Silva, who had scored a crucial 55 in the first innings, fell after scoring a fighting 65 when his team was five runs short of victory.
Needing only a win after having conceded first-innings lead, South had no choice but to let their bowlers have a go with the new ball early in the morning. They struggled initially when the Sri Lankan A openers put together 50 in 13.1 overs. However, Tamil Nadu medium-pacer V Mahesh brought South back into the game and finally finished with six for 71.
The India under-19 bowler who was playing his second first-class match responded to his captain's call after S Sreesanth and Ksushik Reddy wasted the new ball. In a 13-over spell on either side of lunch, Mahesh raised hopes of an unlikely win before Warnapura and Silva spoiled what would have been an unexpected party.
Warnapura completed his ninth first-class century and struck 13 fours in his 196-ball innings. The left-hander who came in at No. 3 was the one to take the fight back to the rival camp with some attractive shots on either side of the wicket.