South Zone stand-in skipper Subramaniam Badrinath was all smiles on Sunday. His team crushed North Zone by 411 runs to set up the Duleep final clash with West Zone in Chennai from February 5 to 9.
South had virtually sealed the semifinal a day in advance by virtue of their first innings lead, but Badrinath had something else in mind. He wanted an outright win and espoused combat in everything he did to achieve his target. His decision to not enforce the follow-on suggested that he wanted his batsmen to have some practice before the final, and a lead of 567 prevented his bowlers from any frenetic activity before the tournament decider.
The plan worked and North Zone, who batted with nine men, were demolished for a paltry156 half an hour after lunch. Barring Shikhar Dhawan (61), Aakash Chopra (27) and Amit Mishra (46), none of the other batsmen could not manage a double-digit score. Dhawan once again got the start, but failed to transform it into a big score and Mishra stuck around towards the end to show some resilience against the South bowlers.
Andhra leg-spinner M. Suresh once again accounted for North Zone skipper Chopra and Sohal (0) was run out in a mix up with Shikhar Dhawan. Mishra stitched together 50 runs with Dhawan, but the latter’s dismissal triggered a collapse with Manpreet Gony (1) and Vikramjeet Malik (4) returning in quick succession. North’s woes continued as injured Virat Kohli and Rajat Bhatia could’nt bat. Badrinath hailed his colleagues for the superb team effort. “I am happy with the performance,” he said. The South skipper singled out M. Suresh for praise, saying, “He is in very good touch and has been bowling really well. We are all looking up to him for a good show in the final.”
Dinesh Karthik, competing with Parthiv Patel, said: “I am concentrating on my batting and hope to strike back.”
South Zone 1st Innings: 548
North Zone 1st Innings: 300
South Zone 2nd Innings: 319/3 decl
North Zone 2nd Innings (target 568): Rahul Dewan c Sub b Balaji 0, Shikhar Dhawan c&b Suresh 61, Aakash Chopra c Karthik b Suresh 27, Sunny Sohal run out 0, Uday Kaul lbw Ashwin 1, Amit Mishra c Sub b Suresh 46, MS Gony c Dravid b Balaji 1, Vikramjit Malik c&b Balaji 4, Parvinder Awana not out 4, Rajat Bhatia dnb, Virat Kohli dnb
Extras (lb-9, nb-3): 12
Total (all out; 42.3 overs): 156
FoW: 1-0, 2-70, 3-70, 4-72, 5-122, 6-123, 7-128, 8-156
Bowling: L Balaji 10-4-20-3, Vinay Kumar 6-2-22-0, R Ashwin 13-2-49-1, S Bandekar 0.5-0-4-0, S Badrinath 1.1-0-4-0, M Suresh 11.3-1-48-3