Pujara toils for two hours to get 28, while Washington Sundar secures a wicket to make his first-class comeback.
Vidwath Kaverappa, secured his third five-for as North Zone was dismissed for 198
North Zone 198 (Prabhsimran 49, Ankit 33, Sindhu 27, Kaverappa 5-28) lead South Zone 63 for 4 (Agarwal 37*, Tilak 12*, Rana 2-19) by 135 runs. On a stressful day at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, where South Zone was thought to have won until they collapsed late in the day to tie the score, as many as 14 wickets fell. The quick bowler from Karnataka, Vidwath Kaverappa, secured his third five-for as North Zone was dismissed for 198. No other North batters took advantage of a strong attack except Prabhsimran Singh, who led the team in scoring with 49.
As North retaliated, Baltej Singh swiftly removed B Sai Sudharsan and R Samarth. Hanuma Vihari, the captain of South Africa, stepped out to take strike as stumps approached but only lasted four deliveries before being dismissed by Harshit Rana. Ricky Bhui went out after the ensuing ball, continuing the slump. South finished with 63 for 4. Earlier, when North fell to 18 for 3 before the first hour, South’s decision to bowl appeared to pay dividends. They only had some control over the situation during a 79-run partnership between Prabhsimran and Ankit Kumar, which stabilized the innings. Ankit’s firing highlighted a weak lower middle order once more. Washington Sundar, who finished with 1 for 44, made his return to first-class cricket in this game. Playing in his first red-ball match in six months, Sundar, who has been playing primarily white-ball matches in the TNPL since his hamstring injury prevented him from participating in the IPL, managed to get rid of Rana, who scored a carefree 31 at No. 9 to support the batting. Those runs may still be beneficial as North attempts a comeback against what appears to be a potent batting order.
West Zone 216 for 8 against Central Zone (Sheth 74, Jadeja 39, Pujara 28, Mavi 4-43). After West Zone’s star-studded top order crumbled in Alur against a methodical Central Zone attack, Atit Sheth’s 74, an innings of hard work and flamboyance in equal measure, saved West Zone on the first day of the Duleep Trophy semi-final. Sheth, an all-rounder for Baroda, entered the batting shortly after lunch when the score was 65 for 5. He quickly revived the innings, first with Cheteshwar Pujara and then with Dharmendrasinh Jadeja. Together, they contributed 45 runs. Pujara, in typical form, fought for two hours before cutting a short ball to the slips on 28. When Sheth and Jadeja tallied 73 runs in less than two hours, West regrouped and kept the scoreboard going. Sheth struck nine fours and a six in 129 deliveries throughout his knock, playing some fluid drives. His footwork against spin was quite impressive and easy on the eye. A sign of his confidence was the way he countered Saurabh Kumar, who had just scored a career-high 8 for 64 in the quarterfinal last week. He rarely played against the turn, arrived early on the pitch, and picked distances to demonstrate his full range of shots. Jadeja was unpredictable, frequently sweeping against the turn but successfully doing so to temporarily put the bowlers off their game after tea. The partnership ended when offspinner Saransh Jain had him jabbing too foolish mid-off.
West dared to bat first in the morning’s cloudy conditions. Shivam Mavi and Avesh Khan, Central’s pace team, kept Prithvi Shaw and Priyank Panchal on their toes. Shaw, known for starting quickly, controlled himself and scored after the first hour. Before being returned for 26 after a recent catch, he appeared stable for most of his time at the crease. The ball got jammed between Dhruv Jurel’s pads as he attempted to take cover after Shaw smacked Saurabh straight to a silly point. He persisted long enough to end a 43-run stand in some way. Exactly one over later, Panchal was caught behind by Yash Thakur thanks to a ball that sneaked back in and struck him square in the front.
When Suryakumar Yadav entered, he started playing a charming movie to get going, but his luck ran out quickly. He was out chasing a wide pitch off the very next delivery after being given a reprieve in the slips, giving Mavi a second wicket and bringing West to 56 for 3. Next was Sarfaraz Khan. He was out cutting on a lifter from Mavi after 11 hesitant deliveries. For lunch, Avesh Khan questioned Het Patel for choosing him over Harvik Desai as the starting wicketkeeper. He was given two balls to bat before getting bowled neck-and-crop for playing down the incorrect line after being spared by a no-ball off which he drove weakly to the slips. Avesh played down the wrong line as he was bowled due to the hard length and late inward movement.
From then on, West was sure to surpass 200 thanks to Sheth’s rescue. Sheth profited from a few reverse sweeps late in the day before becoming Mavi’s fourth victim because Central’s bowlers temporarily lost their strategy against him. Avesh spent most of the second and third sessions off the field as a precaution following an on-field collision with Rinku Singh while attempting a catch, leaving Mavi and Thakur with the bulk of Central’s fast bowling burden.
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