East cruise past North

East Zone moved a step closer to what could be their maiden Duleep Trophy title as they eliminated North Zone by virtue of their 28- run first innings lead at the Feroze Shah Kotla Stadium here on Tuesday. In the five-day final, East will meet Central at Indore from February 12.

Ashok Dinda's terrific eight-wicket spell on Monday had carried East to the threshold of the final, reducing the fourth and last day to a mere formality. East, however, made the most of it with their overnight batsmen Anustup Majumdar and Manish Vardhan slamming centuries.

Resuming at 120/1 , Majumdar (144) and Vardhan (125) batted with flair as a hapless North ran out of ideas to contain them. The two batsmen rustled up 251 runs for the second wicket before Majumdar was bowled by Harshal Patel. His 227-ball innings included 20 boundaries.

Vardhan followed him shortly when he was bowled by Pradeep Sangwan, who took his first wicket of the match. The left-arm seamer bagged two more wickets to finish with figures of 3/78. Vardhan's 246-ball knock came with the help of 14 fours.

East declared their innings closed at 319/5 an hour after lunch and gave North an improbable target of 348 runs to win.

North were 126/3 in 33 overs when the two teams decided to call it off. Opener Rahul Dewan fell on the cusp of a half-century being run out while his partner scored 38.
It was East's final appearance after five years and Dinda hoped the team would go on to win the trophy. “Everyone is very excited. We played like a team. Everyone, from the bowlers and batsmen, has given their all. Hopefully, we will win the final,” he said.

His team-mate and an in-form Majumdar, who has now scored back-to-back centuries in Duleep Trophy, said: “I was never thinking about scoring multiple centuries. For me, it has always been focussing on each and every delivery. Obviously, it's a good feeling that I have been able to contribute to team's cause.”

SCORE BOARD

EAST ZONE (I Innings): 315 all out in 104.1 overs

NORTH ZONE (I Innings): 287 all out in 105 overs

EAST ZONE (II Innings, O/n: 120/1): Manish Vardhan b Sangwan 125, Natraj Behera c Bisht b Awana 19, Anustup Majumdar b Patel 144, Biplab Samantray c Mishra b Sangwan 14, Ishank Jaggi lbw Sangwan 5, Wriddhiman Saha (not out) 0. Extras (B-1, LB-9, W-1, NB-1) 12. Total (for 5 wkts decl, 94.2 overs) 319.

Fall of wickets: 1-45, 2-296, 3-300, 4-314, 5-319.

Bowling: Parvinder Awana 17-4-53-1, Harshal Patel 16-3-45-1, Pradeep Sangwan 14.2-0-78-3, Rajat Bhatia 15-3-28-0, Amit Mishra 22-4-53-0, Mandeep Singh 2-0-9-0, Rahul Dewan 3-0-18-0, Mayank Sidhana 5-0-25-0.

NORTH ZONE (II Innings): Rahul Dewan (run out) 45, Shikhar Dhawan c Vardhan b Nadeem 38, Pradeep Sangwan b Nadeem 3, Mandeep Singh (not out) 19, Mayank Sidhana (not out) 12. Extras (LB-9) 9. Total (for 3 wkts, 33 overs) 126.

Fall of wickets: 1-78, 2-86, 3-109.

Bowling: Biplab Samantray 4-0-18-0, Shahbaz Nadeem 16-1-51-2, Natraj Behera 12-0-41-0, Manish Vardhan 1-0-7-0.

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