East face Central today

A confident East Zone side led by Nataraj Behera will be eyeing their maiden Duleep Trophy title when they take on five-time champions Central Zone in the final to be played here from Sunday.

East Zone have had a good run in the two matches they have played, beating West Zone outright and then managing a win against North by virtue of their first-innings lead.

Central, on the other hand, got past South Zone by first-innings lead to make it to the title round. An interesting duel within the main battle can be expected when the highest run-getter in the current domestic season, Robin Bist, squares off against the highest wicket-taker, Ashoke Dinda.

While Rajasthan’s Bist has scored a whopping 1310 runs with five centuries, Bengal fast bowler Dinda has 52 scalps to his name.

The national selectors will surely keep a tab on the performance of the duo. If Dinda has trained his eyes on the Asia Cup to be held in Bangladesh next month, Bist will certainly like to make a strong case for himself when the India ‘A’ team tours West Indies in July this year. The 22-yard strip at the Usha Raje Scindia stadium is known to help batsmen.

Central boast of domestic heavyweights like Bist and former India player Mohammed Kaif and Naman Ojha, both of whom are coming into the match with centuries.

East also have a decent batting line-up that has India’s reserve Test specialist wicket-keeper Wriddhiman Saha, talented Jharkhand lad Ishank Jaggi and skipper Behera himself, not to forget diminutive Anustup Majumdar who has scored back-to-back centuries against West and North Zones.

Both teams have some injury problems. Senior Central Zone pacer Pankaj Singh has a shoulder injury and looks a doubtful starter. In case Pankaj fails to make it, Rituraj Singh might get a game.

As far as East Zone is concerned, Abu Nechim Ahmed has already gone back home after the North game owing to an injury and Bengal boy Mohammed Shami Ahmed will come in one change as Dinda and Basant Mohanty will share the new ball.

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