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Yuvraj hits second successive ton
March 06, 2004 20:00 IST
Yuvraj Singh scored his second century of the match to wrest back the initiative for North Zone in the Duleep Trophy cricket final against East Zone at the PCA stadium in Mohali on Saturday.
After managing to squeeze out a slender eight-run first innings lead in the morning, North Zone reached a healthy 292 for three at close on third day, with Yuvraj (148) hitting another enterprising century.
It was the first instance of century in each innings in a first-class match for the Punjab batsman. With an overall lead of 284, the hosts now hold the whiphand in the match, which has seen the momentum constantly swing from one end to the other.
Test opening batsman Aakash Chopra, whose 230-run stand with Yuvraj has set North on the victory path, missed his century when he skied an on drive and was caught on 95.
Skipper Dinesh Mongia was batting on 14 with Mithun Manhas on 11 at stumps.
Earlier, Kiran Powar took East close to North's first innings total but fell to an ambitious shot as East, resuming at 287 for eight, were all out for 322.
Powar went after offie Sarandeep Singh in trying to help his team get past the milestone but holed out to the fielder at deep mid-wicket.
His 102, off 161 balls, had 14 fours and a stunning six off Sarandeep. It was one of the finest counter attacking knocks from a recognised batsman with the last batsman at the other end.
But whether that one stroke spoilt East's chances of scoring its first Duleep Trophy victory remains to be seen.
"I wanted to finish it off in that over. There was a number 11 batsman at the other end and a spinner was bowling; I was confident I could do it," Powar said after the innings.
That he only had the first innings lead in mind and did not look further was the difference between the two teams.
For, the early loss of Gautam Gambhir notwithstanding, North looked a team that had only a title win as they paced their second innings to perfection.
The loss of two wickets - including that of Yuvraj – in the closing stages might serve as a stern warning to Mongia's men who collapsed from a position of strength in the first essay.
Mongia admitted as much when he said, "We are thinking in terms of timing our declaration. Hopefully, that is the case tomorrow, and not the way things went in the first innings."
Another factor that might stand between North and the victory is that they have packed their side with four seamers while the pitch has begun to offer turn.
Their lone specialist spinner Sarandeep claimed 5-64 in the first innings and will have to play a huge role if they are to register an outright win.
East gained an early breakthrough when Sourashish Lahiri bowled Gambhir (9) with only 30 on the board but Chopra and Yuvraj proved impregnable.
Chopra displayed the same concentration in offering the dead bat that had stood him in good stead Down Under. The Delhi opener gradually shifted gear after lunch and played some fluent square drives against both Lahiri and left-arm spinner Utpal Chatterjee.
He also used the paddle sweep effectively to fetch his ones and twos against the slow bowlers, who at one stage bowled 28 overs on the trot on either side of lunch.
That he got out to an innocuous shot after spending 299 minutes at the crease and within sight of his century was the only jarring note of the day for North.
Yuvraj, of course, mauled the East bowlers into submission. Considering the way the middle order had collapsed on the first day, East nurtured hopes of dismissing Yuvraj and running through the rest of the line-up.
By the end of the day, however, the left-hander had once again taken the match away from them single-handedly.
He repeatedly rocked on the back foot to punch the spinners through the cover, and the sheer timing of his straight drives sent the ball racing to the boundary.
He had all the time in the world to shift to back foot and pull Chatterjee over midwicket but the shot of the day was a wristy lofted drive that followed for a four in the same region.
Yuvraj seemed set for a big score but he chased a delivery outside the off from Paul to be caught behind.
"I was looking for 200 but got out to a bad shot. There was no feet movement at all," Yuvraj said after the match.
North Zone (1st innings): 330
East Zone (1st innings):
S Das c Yuvraj b Nehra 12
M 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 c Gambhir b Sarandeep 102
L Shukla c Yuvraj b Sarandeep 8
S Lahiri st Ratra b Sarandeep 6
U Chatterjee c Yuvraj b Nehra 39
D Mohanty lbw Gagandeep 2
S Paul not out 0
Extras: (lb-2, nb-16, w-1) 19
Total: (all out in 91.5 overs) 322
Fall of wickets: 1-34, 2-44, 3-46, 4-139, 5-174, 6-182, 7-200, 8-286, 9-302.
Bowling: Ashish Nehra 20-7-50-2, Amit Bhandari 20-1-86-0, Joginder Sharma 11-0-59-2, Gagandeep Singh 17-3-54-1, Sarandeep Singh 22.5-6-64-5, Dinesh Mongia 1-0-7-0.
North (2nd innings):
A Chopra c sub b Lahiri 95
G Gambhir b Lahiri 9
Y Singh c Dhoni b Paul 148
D Mongia batting 14
M Manhas batting 11
Extras: (b-4, lb-1, nb-10) 15
Total: (for 3 wickets in 74 overs) 292
Fall of wickets: 1-30, 2-260, 3-278.
Bowling: Shib Shankar Paul 16-2-81-1, Debasish Mohanty 9-2-26-0, Sourashish Lahiri 28-2-95-2, Utpal Chatterjee 15-0-43-0, Kiran Powar 3-0-29-0, Rohan Gavaskar 2-0-4-0, Devang Gandhi 1-0-9-0.