A wicket had fallen on the first ball in the second and third days of this match and no doubt West Zone would have been hoping for more of the same on the fourth day. But North Zone's Shikhar Dhawan (94 n.o) ensured no such thing happened as he curbed his instinct for stroke-play to lead his team to a six-wicket win in the Duleep Trophy final here at the Wankhede Stadium on Friday.
Chasing a target of 166, North Zone resumed from their overnight score of 74 for three and knocked off the remaining 92 runs just before lunch, losing batsman Yahspal Singh, who could not add to his overnight score of 15.
This is North Zone's second successive win in Duleep Trophy and they now have won this tournament 17 times, one more than the West Zone.
In a match, which was dominated by pace bowlers till the fourth morning, North's Aakash Chopra had fallen to the first ball of the second morning to Siddharth Trivedi. On the third morning West's Sahil Kukreja got out in the first over to VRV Singh.
And it looked like 92-runs would not be an easy task for the North Zone in the seaming conditions of the morning with Trivedi bowling an impeccable line.
Yashpal did struggle at the crease early on, facing 39 balls without adding to his overnight score and appeared quite a contrast to 22-year-old Dhawan. There were loose balls on offer and a confident Dhawan made them count. He hit 13 boundaries and a six during his stay at the crease.
However, North did have its tense moments when Yashpal got out driving straight to the point fielder.
But Rajat Bhatia (33 n.o), who scored 84 in the first innings, shared a 63-run partnership with Dhawan to ensure his team faced no more hiccups on it way to win.
Having played a guarded innings, Dhawan cut loose with 22 runs needed to be scored. He scored his only six hooking Ashraf Makda's short one over the fine-leg boundary.
This is when it appeared that Dhawan, who was batting on 90, could reach his century.
However, in the next over Rakesh Dhruv bowled a wide, which raced to the boundary.
Giving credit to the whole team for the win, North Zone captain Mithun Manhas said that they had a more aggressive approach to the game and hence have won consistently off late. “I believe North Zone cricketers have a more aggressive attitude towards the game than teams from other zones and that is why we won,” said Manhas.
West Zone (1st innings) 274
North Zone (1st innings) 340
West Zone (2nd innings) 231
North Zone (2nd innings, Target 166) A Chopra lbw Trivedi 12, S Dhawan not out 94, K Goel c Patel b Makda 1, M Manhas c Jaffer b Trivedi 1, Yashpal c Rahane b Makda 15, Bhatia not out 33; Extras: (1lb, 5w, 4nb) 10
Total: 166 for four in 58.1 overs
Fall of Wkts: 1-28, 2-39, 3-40, 109-4
Bowling: Trivedi 20-11-42-2, Jobanputra 18-5-51-0, Makda 18.1-4-59-2, Dhruv 2-0-13-0.
Season ’07/08 in India — 1st class matches
Top 5 batsmen (runs)
Player M Inn R HS Ave 100s
A Chopra 15 25 1339 239* 60.86 5
P Patel 13 20 1103 179 58.05 3
A Rahane 11 20 1017 172 56.50 2
M Kaif 13 20 993 160 58.41 3
S Badrinath 12 17 990 200* 66.00 4
Top 5 bowlers (wickets)
Player M Wkts Best Ave 5/I 10/m
R Vinay Kumar 9 47 6/38 20.29 3 1
A Mishra 11 46 6/75 18.21 1 0
S Bangar 9 42 6/53 18.09 3 1
S Tyagi 9 42 6/46 22.64 2 1
S Jobanputra 11 40 6/70 26.00 3 0
Zero tolerance on sledging
(by G Krishnan)
The BCCI's appeal for a total ban on sledging appears to have been taken seriously by the International Cricket Council, with the ICCs' Chief Executives Committee (CEC) having recommended zero tolerance approach to inappropriate public comment and abusive behaviour by players and officials.
Niranjan Shah, secretary of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, who returned on Thursday night after the two-day ICC CEC meeting in Kuala Lumpur, told HT that match officials may be given more powers to settle issues on field itself.
He said Sunil Gavaskar (Chairman of the ICC Cricket Committee) appealed strongly to eliminate it completely from the game. “Gavaskar told the members that in his time, there was no sledging at all and that players should not use foul language on the field. The members also wanted ICC officials to avoid public criticism on events relating to a match,” Shah said.
The ICC was apparently unhappy with Gavaskar's public comments on Mike Procter after the South African match referee initially handed Harbhajan Singh a three-Test ban.
Shah said that the IPL was also debated for long. "All members fully supported the IPL," said Shah. "At the same time, none of the members supported unofficial tournaments like the Indian Cricket League. The members confirmed that they would not grant permission for their players to take part in it.
"The BCCI also ensured that international commitments would take precedence over IPL and that No-Objection Certificates would be required from the respective boards to allow player participation in IPL."
Shah also said that the ICC would introduce a two-year cooling period, by which a player cannot retire prematurely to participate in IPL.
Shah also said that while the T20 competition, promoted by Alan Stanford, had the support of the West Indies Board, the BCCI had a problem with some conditions in it.