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North in sight of first innings lead

March 05, 2004 21:57 IST

East Zone had its role rapidly changed from that of hunter to hunted as they battled in search of the first innings lead on day 2 in the Duleep Trophy cricket final against North Zone at the PCA stadium in Mohali on Friday.

After bowling out the hosts for 330, East made hara-kiri of their reply, reaching 287 for eight by close of the day's play.

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Middle order batsman Kiran Powar was the lone recognized batsman left after playing an attacking innings of 69, with 44 runs more needed to overhaul North's total.

Debasish Mohanty was the other not out batsman, yet to open his score.

In the end, the ball might have prevailed over the bat, but, paradoxically, the best performances of the day came from East Zone.

Shib Shankar Paul claimed his sixth five-wicket haul of the season, with figures of 5 for 83, as North, resuming at 304 for 7, lost their last three wickets for 26 runs in less than 10 overs.

At the other end, Mohanty grabbed three for 52.

Arindam Das then showed better application in countering the four-pronged pace attack of North while compiling 70 from a 196-minute stay at the crease and hitting 11 boundaries.

Skipper Devang Gandhi was equally fluent in scoring a 79-ball 42 but the highlight of the day definitely was Kiran Powar's rearguard 69 and his 86-run partnership for the eighth wicket with veteran Utpal Chatterjee, who contributed a vital 39 down the order.

Yet, despite all these efforts, the momentum was very much in favour of North. The home team needed an hour-and-a-half after the schedule close of play to complete their quota of overs for the day but it was a satisfying day at office for them.

Ashish Nehra (2 for 50) was a bit short of the right length to begin with, but generated good pace and bounce.

Joginder Sharma (2-59) was quicker in the air while Amit Bhandari did well to overcome a horrific opening spell of three overs which cost 20 runs.

It was, however, a spinner who did the trick on a grassy pitch for the North. Sarandeep Singh made clever use of the cross wind to capture four for 53.

He bowled a containing line when Arindam Das and Gandhi were associated in a 93-run fourth wicket stand but began to flight a little more and turn a lot as he drove a wedge through the East batting.

East then might have messed up in their game plan. They definitely did not get the right start when Shiv Sunder Das aggravated a calf-muscle tear. The Orissa batsman was carrying the injury from the previous match against England 'A ' when he batted at number nine in the second innings.

Umpire Shivram, who had stood in that match, refused to give him a runner, which put a lot of pressure on the other opening batsman, Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Dhoni did well in the circumstances to keep the scoreboard ticking even as he played his shots without fear against a wayward Bhandari. But there was an element of arrogance in Singh's batting and he paid the price for it when he edged Joginder Sharma to Aakash Chopra at second slip.

Shivram then relaxed his stance to allow Dhoni run for Das but the contender for Test opener's spot showed a lapse in concentration in reaching for a slanting delivery from Nehra.

Rohan Gavaskar, axed from the Indian one-day team, had more disappointment when he was adjudged leg before for one but Gandhi and Arindam combine thereafter to lead the recovery.

The duo, however, did not let go the scoring opportunities and were severe on all the seamers.

Das was lucky when, on 48, his catch to wicketkeeper Ajay Ratra off Sharma was called a no-ball but the right-hander played an otherwise unblemished innings.

Gandhi, though, lost his sense in trying to hit out Sarandeep off the last over before lunch. He was given the benefit out of doubt on an appeal for LBW after a wild swipe, but the next ball he groped forward to give a bat-pad catch to Mithun Manhas at forward short leg.

Left-handed Powar, elder brother of Mumbai off-spinner Ramesh Powar, did himself no harm in coming up with a squeaky clean knock in front of the national selectors.

Originally an Assam player, Powar had been the East's fulcrum in the Deodhar Trophy one-day tournament. He played another crucial knock for them with his innate sense of picking the right balls to hit, against both the spinners and seamers.

His innings was crucial in the extended final session as he, with good support from Chatterjee, steered East to relative safety.

The veteran's fall, after a 99-minute stay at the crease and with one over to go for the day, marked the end of an interesting day's play.


North Zone (1st innings):
A Chopra lbw Paul 27
G Gambhir lbw Lahiri 46
Yuvraj Singh run out 106
D Mongia c Shukla b Mohanty 84
M Manhas lbw Paul 1
A Ratra b Paul 13
J Sharma c Dhoni b Paul 0
Gagandeep Singh c Dhoni b Mohanty 4
Sarandeep Singh c Lahiri b Paul 14
A Nehra not out 4
A Bhandari lbw Mohanty 0

Extras: (b-4, lb-7, nb-20) 31

Total: (all out in 99.1 overs) 330

Fall of wickets: 1-82, 2-88, 3-285, 4-285, 5-288, 6-288, 7-304, 8-325, 9-326.

Bowling: Shib Shankar Paul 27-8-83-5, Debasish Mohanty 24.1-3-52-3, Sourasish Lahiri 20-5-61-1, Laxmi Ratan Shukla 8-3-28-0, Utpal Chatterjee 12-0-66-0, Kiran Powar 6-0-24-0, Rohan Gavaskar 2-1-5-0.

East Zone (1st innings):
S S Das c Yuvraj b Nehra 12
M S Dhoni c Chopra b Sharma 21
A Das b Sarandeep 70
R Gavaskar lbw Sharma 1
D Gandhi c Manhas b Sarandeep 42
K Powar batting 69
L R Shukla c Yuvraj b Sarandeep 8
S Lahiri st Ratra b Sarandeep 6
U Chatterjee c Yuvraj b Nehra 39
D Mohanty batting 0

Extras: (lb-2, nb-16, w-1) 19

Total: (for 8 wickets in 78 overs) 287

Fall of wickets: 1-34, 2-44, 3-46, 4-139, 5-174, 6-182, 7-200, 8-286.

Bowling: Ashish Nehra 20-7-50-2, Amit Bhandari 16-1-74-0, Joginder Sharma 11-0-59-2, Gagandeep Singh 10-2-42-0, Sarandeep Singh 20-5-53-4, Dinesh Mongia 1-0-7-0.

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