West Zone close grip on Duleep Trophy

February 8th, 2009 - 8:24 pm ICT by IANS  

Chennai, Feb 8 (IANS) West Zone were firmly in the saddle and looked set to win the Duleep Trophy final as South Zone, chasing a massive victory target of 678, were struggling at 232 for three at stumps on the fourth and penultimate day at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium, here Sunday.
West, enjoying a first innings lead of 260, declared their second essay at 417 for eight after resuming at their overnight score of 232 for four.

Opener Parthiv Patel, returning to the crease after having retired Saturday due to indisposition, helped himself to a century, scoring 131 with a series of well-timed shots, particularly off the spinners.

South attack had little to offer on a day when runs did not really matter as much as the timing of declaration, if at all West were keen on forcing an outright victory.

With Abhishek Nayar (44) and Rajesh Pawar (50 not out) chipping in with some useful contributions down the order, West piled on the misery in hot and humid conditions before declaring the innings soon after Pawar got to his half-century.

Facing a mammoth target, South began the chase soundly. Openers Robin Uthappa (94), who was dropped early in his knock, and Murali Vijay (63) put on 165 runs in good time before the partnership was broken as West picked up three quick wickets in as many overs to tighten their grip on the match.

Vijay was the first to depart, nicking off-spinner Ramesh Powar to Patel behind the stumps to bring to a close a solid innings that saw the batsman opening out after a sedate start and playing some belligerent strokes.

Uthappa was dismissed in the next over when he mistimed a heave off left-arm spinner Pawar and holed out at mid-off after playing some brilliant strokes, notably the hooked six off a Sandeep Trivedi bouncer.

Worse was to follow in the following over from Pawar as Rahul Dravid, who had made just five runs in the first innings, lasted a mere four balls and was out for a duck as the ball kept low and squeezed under the bat to disturb the wickets.

Thereafter, skipper Subramaniam Badrinath, who made 100 not out in the first innings, and Dinesh Karthik steadied the innings with an unbeaten 65-run partnership for the fourth wicket.

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