Bengal speedster Ashok Dinda's hostile spell of fast bowling helped defending champions East Zone reach the final of the Duleep Trophy for the second successive time after beating South Zone by virtue of 23-run first innings lead in Visakhapatnam, on Wednesday.
Dinda took seven for 26 in 15 overs to reduce South to a paltry 85 for eight in 36 overs before both the captains agreed for a draw on the fourth and final day of the four-day match.
After East were bowled out for 215 in their second innings, South needed 239 runs in 51 overs (including mandatory overs) in order to win the match but in the end just about managed to avert outright defeat.
Dinda, who registered his 13th five-wicket haul in first-class cricket terrorized the South Zone top order in a single spell to shut out any dreams that were harboured by the South Zone team.
The pitch wasn't an easy one to bat on as left-hander Abhinav Mukund was done in by a delivery that kept low. In his next over, right-hander Ramaswamy Prasanna was castled while the dangerous Robin Uthappa edged one to Nataraj Behera in the slip cordon. Manish Pandey was also castled by Dinda and South at 16 for four were virtually out of the match.
While Amit Verma, Stuart Binny and skipper R Vinay Kumar were also sent back cheaply by Dinda, Mohanty got rid off Abhimanyu Mithun. However with a nine-wicket match haul, he has certainly started his first-class season with a bang.
The credit should also be given to Orissa duo of Biplab Samantray and Basant Mohanty who added 68 runs for the seventh wicket and more importantly helped the lead to swell and consumed crucial time which only lessened South's chances of an outright win.
After his three-wicket haul in South's first innings, Samantray scored a patient 52 in the second essay while Mohanty chipped in with an useful 35 after half century in the 1st innings.
Brief Scores: East Zone 267 and 215 (B Samantray 52, B Mohanty 35, R Vinay Kumar 3/10, S Binny 3/31); South Zone 244 & 85/8 (Ashok Dinda 7/26).