Duleep Trophy: North Zone move closer to victory with command performance

North Zone hurtled ruthlessly towards a crushing win over North East Zone while rattling up 259 for 6 in their second innings, pathway to their giant 665-run lead on the third day of the Duleep Trophy quarterfinal in Bengaluru on Friday.

Once that strong foundation was set, the North bowlers made optimum use of it to reduce North East to 58 for 3 at close. NE trail by 607 runs.

But before their batsmen came into the party for the second time in the match, North bowlers led by Siddarth Kaul bundled out NE for 134 to gift them a lead of 406 runs.

Despite that massive first innings lead, North opted against enforcing follow-on. The thought, perhaps, fuelled by the desire to give some hopefuls another chance to impress with the bat.

However, the plan did not fructify in its entirety. Dhruv Shorey and Nishant Sindhu, the first innings centurions, fell cheaply for 11 and 3 respectively.

Jotin Singh bowled a peach of a delivery to evict Shorey. The ball pitched on the middle and leg before moving to hit the top of the off-stump, to leave Shorey a stunned man and it was the ball of the day by some miles.

The dismissal had put North in a minor trouble at 23 for 2, but Ankit Kalsi and Prabhsimran Singh allayed all that with a fine 83-run stand for the third wicket in a little over 15 overs.

Both Prabhsimran and Kalsi batted at a good clip bringing out their natural flair. Just when they looked set for a bigger haul, Kalsi was ousted for 49 and later Prabhsimran too fell for 59.

At 146 for 5, North East might have dreamt of bringing quick curtains to their opponent’s innings but it did not pan out that way.

North captain Jayant Yadav (55 no, 78 balls, 8×4) and Ankit Kumar (70, 101 balls, 8×4) further punished their rivals with a 113-run alliance for the sixth wicket.

Jayant, who led North in the place of injured Mandeep Singh, made no harm to his aspirations batting with poise to nullify a failure in the first innings.

Jayant’s previous appearance for India was in the Mohali Test against Sri Lanka in March 2022. The pair was in extreme comfort in the middle till Ankit was stumped by Prafullmoni off left-arm spinner Kishan Singha.

The dismissal also brought forth declaration from North and they would be eager to take this match to its logical conclusion at the earliest on Saturday. PTI UNG UNG

Saurabh Kumar triggers East collapse, Central close in on win

Central Zone’s Saurabh Kumar bagged four wickets to reduce East Zone to 69 for 6 and placed his side on the doorstep of a victory on the third day of the Duleep Trophy quarterfinal.

Chasing an improbable 300 to win, East now need 231 runs more with four wickets remaining.

Along with Saurabh, the East Zone should be thankful to their batters too for this position of strength. In the second innings, they made 239 all out to construct an overall lead of 299 runs.

Starting from their overnight 64 for no loss, Central moved ahead in the match through openers Himanshu Mantri and Vivek Singh.

Mantri (68, 153 balls, 7×4) and Vivek (56, 120 balls, 4×4, 2×6) milked 124 runs for the opening wicket, giving a clear edge to their side.

They departed in quick succession and the Central could not sustain the steam for the rest of the innings.

However, cameos by Saransh Jain (32) and Shubam Sharma (23) ensured that Central would not lose the momentum given by the openers.

East failed to take the cue from Central batting, though.

Their batting malfunctioned for the second time in the match against left-arm spinner Saurabh. Riyan Parag was batting on 6 at close but the target seems too tall for a one-man effort. PTI UNG UNG

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