Maiden Duleep title for East

Maiden Duleep title for East

Central crumble under pressure to lose by an innings and 20 runs

East Zone kept their date with history as they crushed Central Zone by an innings and 20 runs to win their maiden Duleep Trophy title in an emphatic manner here on Tuesday.

Champions: East Zone celebrate after clinching their maiden Duleep Trophy title in Indore on Tuesday. East beat Central Zone by an innings and 20 runs. PTI

Enjoying a commanding first-innings lead of 237, East Zone pace duo of Ashoke Dinda (3/94) and Mohammed Shami Ahmed (4/50) shared the bulk of the spoils as Central’s innings terminated at 217 for nine. Vineet Saxena, who was nursing a finger injury, didn’t come out to bat.

While Shami had the best match figures of eight for 123, Dinda will remember this first-class season in which he finished with 59 scalps from nine games, leaving the second highest wicket-taker Taduri Sudhindra (44 wickets) way behind.

The Central batsmen didn’t show the gumption required to save the match. To make a match of it, patience was the key but Central batsmen weren’t prepared to stay at the wicket.

The likes of Jalaj Saxena (46) and Mohammad Kaif (9) were dismissed failing to mistimed pull shots.

Saxena, who had started on an aggressive note hitting eight fours and a six, finally holed out in the deep to Basant Mohanty off Dinda’s bowling. Naman Ojha (36) then nicked one to Wriddhiman Saha behind the stumps off Shami while the 21-year-old Bengal speedster removed Kaif with a short-pitched delivery.

At 101 for three, there was no looking back for East as they got wickets at regular intervals. Mohnish Mishra (44) and Robin Bist (20) added 38 for the fourth wicket before the talented Rajasthan batsman edged one to Saha off Dinda.

Parvinder Singh (6) got a fast incoming delivery and was adjudged plumb in-front.
At 146 for five, the match was as good as over. Skipper Piyush Chawla was dismissed in a manner so typical of him trying to hit Shami out of the park. Mishra hit a few meaty blows before Dinda sent him back. Left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem then came in to polish off the tail.

Man-of-the-match Saha and the tournament’s highest wicket-taker Dinda both stressed on ‘collective effort and great team spirit’.

Saha said, “I decided to wait for the loose balls because getting a big lead was important. Nataraj and Biplab also supported me well. I am happy that both my centuries came in a winning cause.”

East skipper Nataraj Behera thanked coach Debashis Mohanty for his contribution. “Our coach motivated the whole team and also being a pacer himself, he passed on valuable inputs to our bowlers.”