An eight-wicket loss with a day-and-a-half to spare wasnt a scenario East Zone would have imagined at stumps on Friday. At the end of the second day,they had reached 128/3 and the temporary high of erasing the 111-run lead meant they could dare to dream big. On Day Three,it proved to be wishful thinking as East lasted just 20 overs to reach 200 and West Zone flew past the winning target of 90 just after lunch to reach the Duleep Trophy final.
It reconfirmed the fact that the teams separated geographically by several thousand miles were light years apart on the cricketing field. West boasts of four teams in the Elite division Ranji champions Mumbai,semi-finalists Saurashtra,quarter-finalists Gujarat and Baroda.
East had just one team in the Elite group this season,in Orissa,and they too just about managed to avoid relegation. Raja Venkat confirms the region is experiencing a slump. It is tough to even pick a zonal squad. There are a few players who are exceptional. But things will improve, he says.
West Zone skipper Wasim Jaffer was also surprised by the dismal show of his rivals. Jaffer says that his team were not on the money but still they managed to win with a lot to spare. We dropped catches,the batting wasnt up to our standards and the bowlers bowled well only in patches. Any other team would have taken advantage of these things, says Jaffer.
Among other factors for Easts forgettable show,the selection of the playing XI was striking. Pacer Basanth Mohanty seemed unfit,the team lacked a spinner and instead of playing a specialist batsman,they opted for two keepers.
Brief scores: East Zone 171 & 200 (SS Das 56,RR Parida 47; D Kulkarni 3/50,S Trivedi 3/67); West Zone 282 & 90/2 (P Patel 54).