Dravid in the zone,South on tophttps://indianexpress.com/article/news-archive/print/dravid-in-the-zone-south-on-top/

Dravid in the zone,South on top

Former India skipper’s trademark century and Karthik’s second of the match help seize initiative as Central fumble

If young Samit Dravid ever decides to follow in his illustrious father’s footsteps,he would have the privilege of learning the basics from one of the most knowledgeable brains in the game. The process appears to have already begun,even before the toddler knows it.

There were theory lessons on Friday — Samit walked across the Chinnaswamy stadium,hand-in-hand with one of the legends of Indian cricket,stopping near the practice nets for a while before taking a seat atop a super-sopper. A day later,the senior Dravid ensured that the three-year-old got the perfect practical demonstration,as he saved South Zone the blushes with a typical,gritty 118. And then in first-innings centurion Dinesh Karthik,there was a guest lecturer,even though his unbeaten 109,which took the team to 345 for 6 at stumps,included more audacious chapters — the reverse-sweep and the glide through the slip-cordon.

The real interest in the opening Duleep Trophy fixture,however,seemed to end within two balls of the third day’s play,as Central Zone’s last man Umesh Yadav was cleaned up by Laxmipathy Balaji,ensuring the first-innings lead for VVS Laxman’s men. Central’s opening bowlers Pankaj Singh and Bhuvneshwar Kumar though did seem to revive some of it,as they bowled with fire and reduced South Zone to 24 for 3,before substitute Faiz Fazal’s eventful five minutes on the field almost blew it away.

The Vidarbha opener,who was on the field for Murali Kartik,first dropped a simple chance of Arjun Yadav,who was yet to open his account,at third slip off Pankaj Singh. And even though he managed to hold on to Dravid’s scoop in the very next over,the umpire signalled a no-ball.

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There were to be no more chances for Mohammad Kaif & Co,as Dravid set about reviving South Zone’s second innings,in the only way he knows best. The Karnataka batsman did have his customary moments of insecurity at the start of his innings,as Bhuvneshwar in particular,troubled him. At the other end,Yadav continued to play with gay abandon,and kept the boundaries coming.

The spin duo of Kartik and Piyush Chawla failed to impress again,as Dravid and Yadav notched up a 150-run partnership,and in the process almost certainly booked their team’s flight to Rajkot for the semi-final against North. Kartik did manage to bowl the delivery of the day,as he beat Yadav in the flight from over-the-wicket and got him stumped by a fumbling Naman Ojha.

But Yadav’s wicket only made it worse for the Central bowlers,with Karthik picking up from where he’d left in the first innings. The final session did hold one shocker,when Dravid stepped out to Chawla and hit him for a huge six with his score on 93.

He soon notched up his fourth Duleep Trophy century,before succumbing to Bhuvaneshwar down the leg-side. That left the stage for Karthik to dominate,and he did not disappoint,as he became the sixth man ever and the first since Kevin Pietersen to score hundreds in each innings in the Duleep Trophy.

“It’s always a great feeling scoring runs on a difficult wicket,against a quality bowling attack,” said Dravid,who insisted that his priorities at the moment were strictly to help South qualify for the final.