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Duleep Trophy final: Fearless Central ready for fiery South

Last updated on: October 28, 2014 19:23 IST

Naman Ojha. Photograph: Matt Roberts/Getty Images

A talented Central Zone, led by Piyush Chawla, is looking to fire on all cylinders when it clashes with an equally combative South Zone in the final of the Duleep Trophy, starting in Delhi on Wednesday.

While South Zone crushed East by an innings and 118 runs on a seaming track at Lahli, Central deflated star-studded North Zone at Mohali in the other semi-final, which ended in a draw.

The match holds promise of a battle of attrition between South's Robin Uthappa (120 runs) and Central's Naman Ojha (217 runs), who both scored contrasting centuries in the previous round.

The Feroz Shah Kotla track has a liberal grass coating left by young curator Ankit Dutta, but, as is the case with the Delhi track, the ball keeps low and slow, only to deceive the competing teams.

"I don't know whether they will shave off some grass tomorrow before the start of the match. Looks a good grassy wicket, but I can only assess it once the match starts," South skipper R Vinay Kumar said, on the eve of the match.

Both teams will be missing out on some key players because of the India 'A' - Sri Lanka practice match at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai on Thursday.

While Central will be without the spin duo of Karn Sharma and Kuldeep Yadav, South will miss the services of Stuart Binny, Karun Nair, Manish Pandey and Sanju Samson.

Central have included veteran left-arm spinner Ali Murtaza and Vidarbha off-spinner Akshay Wakhare, while South called up Tamil Nadu's middle-order mainstay Ramaswamy Prasanna and off-break bowler Malolan Rangarajan, Kerala's former India 'A' batsman Vasudevan Jagadeesh and back-up medium pacer Ravi Kiran from Hyderabad as replacements for the aforesaid players.

South boast of some of the best domestic batsmen in the business, including Uthappa, who scored a century high on quality and gumption on a green track at Lahli.

The selectors will also have a close look at young Karnataka batsman Lokesh Rahul, who did well with the bat in domestic cricket last season

With no Manish Pandey or Karun Nair in the middle-order, both Abhinav Mukund and R Prasanna could get a look-in.

For Central, a lot will depend on how Ojha bats, considering that he has scored a whopping 687 runs in his last five innings, including two double hundreds.

Jalaj Saxena, Ashok Menaria and newly-appointed Railways' captain Mahesh Rawat have also been among the runs.

Rawat scored a fighting century in the second innings when North were setting sight on an improbable victory. He now boasts of four hundreds in his last four first-class games.

Among the bowlers, pacers Ishwar Pandey and Pankaj Singh, who were part of India's Test squad in England, will be hoping to extract some help from the pitch.


South Zone: R Vinay Kumar (captain), Robin Uthappa, Lokesh Rahul, Abhinav Mukund, Dinesh Karthik (w/k), Baba Aparajith, Abhimanyu Mithun, Pragyan Ojha, HS Sharath, Hanuma Vihari, Shreyash Gopal, Malolan Rangarajan, Vasudevan Jagadeesh, Ramaswamy Prasanna, Ravi Kiran.

Central Zone: Piyush Chawla (captain), Faiz Fazal, Jalaj Saxena, Robin Bist, Naman Ojha, Ashok Menaria, Mahesh Rawat (w/k), Ali Murtaza, Akshay Wakhare, Ishwar Pandey, Pankaj Singh, Arindam Ghosh, Amit Mishra, Shalabh Srivastava.