It was a day when the North batsmen beat down upon East Zone like a hammer on an anvil, none more so than Joginder Sharma.
So glaring was the East’s deference to North’s charge on Sunday that all they could do was endure impassively as North struck one blow after another, each deadlier than the previous, as the visitors amassed a mammoth 504 runs in the first innings of their crucial Duleep Trophy encounter here.
In reply, East were reeling at 22 for the loss of two wickets when bad light brought the day to a premature end. Sourav Ganguly was looking attractive on 10 and Abhishek Jhunjhunwala on 6. Shiv Sunder Das shuffled too much to an Ashish Nehra delivery and was bowled round the legs while Gagandeep snared Shubmoy Das with an inswinger.
However, it was Joginder who made Sun- day a bloody one for the East, as he scored an untrammeled, seat-of-the-pants century — his second in as many matches — to ensure that the Prince of Kolkata and his wards remained within the confines of the ground for nearly two excruciating days.
If Gautam Gambhir and Yashpal Singh had shown up minor foibles in the East bowling on Day One, Sunday saw Joginder, assisted by Yashpal and Mahesh Rawat, exposing them down to their bare bottoms, so to speak.
With the power of his bottom hand, Joginder’s strokes resemble a hockey player sending a pass downfield, and he used that strength to devastating effect by scoring a power-packed 122 runs in a mere 166 balls.
Match to continue despite blasts
The North Zone and East Zone teams have decided to continue with the match de- spite Sunday's bomb blasts here that killed ten people and injured 52. The decision was taken after a meeting late on Sunday between North and East captains Mitthun Manhas and Sourav Ganguly, respectively.
The managers of the two sides, the two um- pires, ACA secretary Bikas Barua and police officials were also present at the meeting. However, in a late development just past mid-night, match referee Rajesh Yadav of Hi- machal told HT that the match would be held provided the security was full proof.
He said a security check would be conducted at 7.30 am on Monday morning. It is believed that the check has been insisted on, following panicky reactions from some An astounding 18 fours and three mighty six- es embellished his innings.
Resuming the day at 252 for the loss of four wickets, North began steadily with Yashpal and Rawat continuing from where they had left off. Yashpal looked in imperious touch and produced a delectable array of strokes that only the East players would have found unappetising.
His four off medium-pacer Ashok Dinda was a vintage one. Dinda was hurling bouncers at Yashpal’s torso from round the wicket — it is another matter that the ploy was having little effect as the Ser- vices batsman was swaying and ducking with aplomb — but pitched one ball up.
Yashpal, seizing the moment, went down on his hind leg and drove the ball with such force that a hapless Rohan Gavaskar at extra cover didn’t even have time to react. But just as it seemed he would score a deserved century, he was caught down the leg-side off an innocuous Debashish Mohanty delivery.
However, that bought Joginder to the crease and, looking to expend as little energy as possible, he ran amok. He scored his first 24 runs from boundaries.
Throughout his innings he was ruthless and the way he timed the ball was a treat. When he hit the ball, it stayed hit and when he defended it, it was dead right at the spot.
Rawat, who epitomises the virtues of waiting for the loose balls, also made an impressive 62. Together the Haryana duo added 106 runs off 153 balls for the sixth wicket, a partnership that quelled whatever modicum of fight East had.
North Zone (1st innings): Chopra lbw Mohanty 12, Gambhir c Dasgupta b Lahiri 86, Ricky c Mohanty b Lahiri 29, Manhas c Shukla b Lahiri 21, Yashpal c Dasgupta b Mohanty 89, Rawat c Dasgupta b Jhunjhunwala 62, Joginder c&b Shib Sagar 122, Gagandeep b Gavaskar 18, Nehra not out 23, Rajesh c Ganguly b Shib Sagar 2, Bhatia b Dinda 2; Extras — b 9, lb 7, nb 22 — 38 Total (all out): 504 Fall of wickets: 1-29, 2-81, 3-116, 4-212, 5-298, 6-404, 7-474, 8-481, 9-499; Bowling: Dinda 35.5-3-126-1, Mohanty 19-4- 44-2 Ganguly 9-0-15-0, Lahiri 43-5-151-3, SS Singh 27-2- 103-2, Gavaskar 6-0-31-1, Jhunjhunwala 4-1-17-1 East Zone 1st innings: S Das c Gambhir b Gagandeep 1, SS Das b Nehra 4, Jhunjhunwala batting 6, Ganguly bat- ting 10; Extras — nb 1 — 1 Total (for two wickets): 29 Fall of wickets: 1-3, 2-5; Bowling: Nehra 5.5-0-9-1, Gagan- deep 5-2-13-1